Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What do I really believe in?

Okay, so it's kind of been a while. Sorry. I was busy dealing with a large slice of life-pie. Or cake. Or whatever. Anyway.

I've been struggling a little with my faith lately, so I thought maybe I'd hop on here and write out a list of the things that I believe. Not just things I've been taught (which is why I'm struggling, I think - if I'd been taught something else, I would probably have grown up believing in that), but things that I deeply believe, because they make sense to me or because I've experienced something... I want to believe 100% in what I've learned about God over the past twelve or thirteen years. I want to... I just don't want it to be even remotely based on blind trust in the stuff I read and the people I've listened to. Because if that's all my faith in God boils down to, it's not going to be solid enough to get me through the hard times in life, when everything else is crashing down around me and nothing is sturdy enough to stand on.

So. My list. We'll start with the basics, shall we?

I believe life, the world, the universe... was all created. Because it just had to be. It had to come from somewhere. There's too much logic, too much obvious DESIGN for it to have just happened. And stuff can't come from nothing. Therefore... Someone put it here.

I believe God is good. I believe I can trust God to do good towards me. Because I believe that God loves me. Even when something doesn't look good from here, I believe I can trust God that it is somehow better than what I think I want that I'm not getting. Anyone who was willing to allow his only (and perfect) son, mysteriously also somehow a part of himself, to die in my place obviously loves me and wants the best for me.

I believe God created me and knew exactly who I would be and every decision I would ever make from the BEGINNING OF TIME. Which is unfathomably cool.

I believe, therefore, that I have value because I was created by God.

I believe God not only created me and gave me life, but also that he purposely created me imperfect. Incomplete. Because that's what draws me, as a human being, to him. That's what creates the desire for relationship in my heart. Also, that's what allows me to understand and know the vastness of his love. To love someone who is perfect is no feat at all. But perfect love can love the flawed. The incomplete. The broken. The human being.

I believe we somehow have the freedom to choose, but that also God is the author of all of life and foreknew every decision every person would ever make. I believe this is impossible to fully comprehend. But I also believe it's okay not to understand everything. Because knowing something is beyond your understanding... that's what causes WONDER. And to have wonder and awe is a very cool thing. It's okay because God understands and knows, and we don't have to worry about it. It's liberating, really.

I believe Jesus. Tons of people heard him speak. Heard him say what people were thinking in their hearts. Saw him heal illnesses and cast out demons. (Not sure what that looks like.) People saw him back from the dead. If these accounts were not true, I believe there would have been a lot of dispute against them from the beginning when they were written. Right? Plus the timing of his birth lining up with the planets and the appearance of a bright star in the sky moving and then standing still over Bethlehem... that's crazy cool. And other prophecies... The prophecies about him all turned out to be 100% accurate. How does that happen apart from God's inspiration? Therefore, I believe God speaks to and through people. Somehow. I've never experienced it, but I'm sure it's not the same with everyone he speaks to because from what I've read and heard of people's experiences with God, there's a lot of diversity in his approach with various people. Dreams, burning bushes, angels...

Also, I feel. I feel guided. I guess that's the Holy Spirit in me. I don't remember ever feeling that guidance before I believed in Christ. That conviction of "you need to do this now." That sense of "this is right, this is true. That isn't." Don't remember feeling any of that before I believed, either. But then, I was only 12, so it could have been that I was just young and hadn't experienced those kinds of feelings yet. Hadn't reached that level of self-awareness. Conscience. I don't know. I just know I feel things. Things I couldn't know from experience. There are deep truths that are somehow inside of me, and I don't know how they got there.

I believe I don't know much. And I'll never know much, compared to how much there is to know. Relative to God, I know pretty much nothing. I believe humility is important in relating to God. I believe... I don't know where I'm going with this.

I believe it is good to be intentional. And organized. And humble. And wise. And in-the-moment. And loving. And kind. And peaceful. But I believe it is hard. I believe life is a journey and not a destination. I believe we struggle for a reason. Because we were created with shortcomings. Because how else can we learn and grow? How else can we appreciate God's mercy and grace? How else can we learn to depend on God? How else can we comprehend his love? That's the purpose of life, isn't it? To bring joy to the Father, and to learn to comprehend his love? To receive his love?

Hmm. I therefore believe that life, at it's core, is really quite simple. I believe we make it complex. I believe it is very complex, in many ways. But what really matters is what I just wrote in the paragraph above. The other stuff we get tangled in isn't the real stuff - the good stuff. Well, no. It's real. But it's not forever. It's not as big as it seems. It's just another obstacle. And it doesn't have to be overwhelming. I believe God doesn't put us through things we can't handle - so long as we rely on him. If we try to rely on ourselves I believe there's plenty we can't handle. Because we're not whole. Not perfect. Not complete apart from God. We were created to be the receiving end of a love relationship. How can we then function without the Lover on the giving end? Not well. Not well at all.

Still. I believe it is difficult to turn from the distractions and everything around us that fights for our attention. I believe it is hard to feel certain about things we can't see. I believe it's hard (sometimes) to really feel loved by a God who is spirit, when we are flesh.

But I believe life is a struggle for a reason. I believe it is somehow best this way. Because like I said before, I believe that God is good. I believe that he loves us. I believe he is trustworthy and knows what he's doing. And I believe I'm going to stand on that.

Yeah. I feel better now. Still would love to see some more evidence of God in my life. Experience him more. But you know, I probably am and I'm just overlooking it because I'm so freaking distracted by all the STUFF. So. Maybe this is just another lesson. Another obstacle to draw me closer to him and help me to understand the depth of his love for me just a little bit better.

Or I could be wrong. Who knows? But I rest in the faith that while I may be wrong about this - and about a LOT of things - God is right. He knows, he understands, he's got it under control. And that's okay with me.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Make the Most of Every Opportunity

The title really says it all this time. I heard this on the radio yesterday and just wanted to jot it down here so I wouldn't forget. Time is precious, and we waste SO much of it. As followers of Christ, we need to make the most of every opportunity we have to reach out, to serve, to bring God's light into the world while we have time.

That's it.

Untapped Potential

Haven't finished this sermon yet, but this is definitely something I want to write down and remember. The sermon title is "We Are All, pt. 1." The guy was talking about how we live our lives with this attitude like we have some great, hidden reserve of untapped potential, and if we could just tap into it, we could do anything. We think so highly of ourselves, like Peter did when he said that he would never deny Christ, even if he had to die with him. We think we won't fail because we're "better than that." Or we feel disappointed in ourselves when we do fail, because we think we should have been "better than that."

But we're NOT. That's why we need a savior.

So in reality, being disappointed in ourselves is actually a kind of pride. We're not better than that. And try as we might, we can't change ourselves and become better than that. The only way we can ever become holy or good is by drawing near to God. We have to remember how needy and dependent we are, or we'll let go of the only One who can help us.

One more point from the sermon that I'd like to include before I wrap this up. Some people say Christianity is a crutch. That it's only for the weak. That is true. But what so many people don't realize is that we're ALL weak. And if you refuse a crutch because you don't want to seem weak, but in reality you're missing a leg (and somehow you haven't noticed), you really won't be any better off. You still won't be able to walk, no matter how hard you try. The guy who accepts the crutch, however, realizes and accepts his weakness, and ends up getting around a lot better than the other guy.

So I guess my point is, accept your weakness. God's strength is made perfect in weakness, anyway. And he knows you can't be holy on your own. So (this is especially what I need to hear) stop being disappointed in yourself, stop trying to be holy on your own, and just draw near to God and let the Spirit guide you.

Simple, but incredibly, incredibly hard to do.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

It's All About Jesus

Simple but profound lesson today. Matter of fact, it can be summed up in one sentence. "It's not about us - it's about Jesus!" Seriously. The sermon title was "Jesus Is Healer," I think. That or "Jesus Heals." It was good. It was especially good for me because I'm learning to die to myself right now, and that's easier (not easy, but easier) to do when you remember it's not about you anyway. :)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Epic Homemade Muffin Cereal

Okay, guys. This is EPIC! I was looking for a good soaked grain muffin recipe, and I found this one and decided to give it a try. It seems like a pretty cool website, too - not just for the recipe, but in general. You should check it out.

Anyway, the muffins turned out a little crumbly and dry, and they were slightly overdone around the outside edges, although that might just be our oven. I've been having trouble getting used to it - it seems hotter than most ovens I've used. But moving on... Kaira and I enjoyed the muffins over a couple of days, and while we were enjoying them I left them sitting out on a plate in the open air. The crumbs, which were all over the plate, because did I mention the muffins came out CRUMBLY? Like super super crumbly? The crumbs dried out, and I thought, hmm, I wonder if I can pour these in a bowl of milk and eat them like cereal? And OH! It was GOOD!!!! Way better than the muffins, though again that could have mostly been the fault of my oven. Also, they might have been more moist if I had used honey or maple syrup as the sweetener instead of whole sugar. Maybe I'll try that one day.

So anyhow, today I made another batch and I just baked the whole thing in a huge stoneware rectangular cake pan thing. Like a batch of brownies. And when they were done I ran a spatula through it and crumbled it to bits, then put it back in the oven at 150 degrees for several hours to dry the crumbs out. And YES! Successfully made cereal. On purpose this time!

I'll try to get some pictures up here one day. But WOW! And this is unprocessed, GOOD FOR YOU cereal! Not slow suicide in a box. :) It's amazing!