Friday, April 26, 2013

The Importance of Popularity

    In life, it seems like everyone wants to be popular. It's normal, but how important is it? Now, there's nothing wrong with being popular, but is it more important to follow God and have a few friends, or live life to please others no matter what you're doing? Now, don't get me wrong, you can be popular without even trying to please anyone at all, but life isn't about making other people happy. Other people didn't put you on this earth, other people did not create you. God did. We need to remember that God should be first in everything we do, even if it makes us a bit unpopular. We should still treat others with love, but we shouldn't live to please others.

     Think about it this way, God never just completely ignored us for something else, did He? No. He hasn't. We need to remember to always put God first, and to remember that serving God is more important than our social status. And who knows? Maybe serving God will make you even more popular because it calls you to be nice to others. That shouldn't be our intention, but it could be one of the side effects. God didn't promise us a perfect life on earth, but He did promise us a perfect life in heaven, if we live according to His word. And honestly, I'd rather have a few friends on earth and eternal life in heaven, than a bunch of friends and no life in heaven.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

What is Love?

According to 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, "love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy or boast, it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrong doing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. " In 1 John 4:8 it says, "Anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love." If we are to be like God, and God is love, then we are to be everything in this passage. We are to be patient, kind, and not envy or boast. We shouldn't be arrogant or rude. We shouldn't insist on our own way; we shouldn't be irritable or resentful; we should not rejoice in wrong doing, but rejoice with the truth. We should bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things. A lot of times, this can be hard, or even seem impossible. But we can always ask God to help us. Matthew 7:7-8 says, "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be open to you. For anyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened." And in Mark 12:30-31 it says, "And you shall love the Lord your God will all your heart, and with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: you shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these." Our neighbors aren't just our friends. They're the people around us, whether we like them or not. We need to remember that even if that girl did say something mean to you, that you need to be patient, and kind. :)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Choosing a Translation

     Last night I was studying for an article that I'll be doing later on, when I thought of this verse that would fit in perfectly, but I couldn't remember where it was, or what it said exactly. So after about 30 minutes of trying to find it, I decided to just look it up on my laptop. I searched some of the key words, and a verse popped up. I didn't see what the verse was, I just saw, "VERSE" and clicked on it, because I was a bit desperate to find this one verse. The verse I had clicked on was Romans 2:12. I didn't know what translation I had clicked on (I usually forget to check that until after I read) but anyway, I read, "Some people do not know God's law when they sin. They will not be judged by the law when they die. Others do know God's law when they sin. They will be judged by the law." HOLD UP! Wait a second! That can't be right. So I pull out my ESV (which I really like because it's one of the most accurate translations) and I read it from there. It said, "For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law."

     The first one that I read was from the NIRV (New International Readers Version). I wanted to make sure that I wasn't making any false judgement on either translations, so I decided to read it all in contexts (that's the only way you can understand the Bible. Contexts is everything.) In verse 11 it says, "God shows no partiality." (I'm reading from the ESV now). So, verse 11 says that God shows no partiality, or favoritism if you prefer, then why are some judged by the law, and some not? Then you continue reading, and you get to verse 13 which says, "For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but doers of the law who will be justified." Verse 12 isn't talking about how if you don't know that you're sinning and you sin, then you won't be judged. It's saying something completely different. It's saying that if you live a lawless life, then you will die being a lawless person. You won't be righteous, and then verse 13 talks about how just because you hear the word but don't practice it, then you won't be saved, meaning that if you live in lawlessness but have heard the Word, you will still die being a lawless person. Contexts is EVERYTHING. So when you're reading, or choosing a new Bible, make sure and choose a good translation. Here is a translation comparison chart. When choosing your Bible, make sure that you can understand it (I know that sometimes the KJV can be a bit difficult to understand even if it is very accurate) but that is also accurate. Now, if your Bible isn't exactly word-for-word, then that doesn't mean that it's necessarily inaccurate, but that it's just phrased differently. But you really want to stay as close to the word-for-word as you can. 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 says, "For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righousness. Their end will correspond their deeds." There are false teachers, and false translations out there in the world, and we need to be very careful to avoid those. A false translation is pretty much exactly what Paul is talking about, "Disguising themselves as apostles of Christ."  So please, be careful next time you choose your Bible. Make sure that it's very accurate. It's not just something to pick at random, it's definitely important to pick a good one. Also, it is very important to study your Bible as often as you can, so when you come across something like this, you can know that it's false teaching and not become confused.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Singing from our Hearts

     Yesterday I talked about why we shouldn't clap while singing praises to God (if you didn't read it but want to, click here) so today I figured that it'd be a good time to talk about singing from our hearts.

     When we sing, it can be easy to get distracted from what we're saying. Sometimes we can forget what we're doing because we've just sung that song so many times, that we can sing it without even thinking. In Ephesians 5:19-21 it says, "(19) addressing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord in your heart, (20) giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, (21) submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ." This is saying that we not only have to sing, but we have to be reverent, and give thanks to God in our singing. This also means that when we go to worship God, we should sing, because it's part of the worship that God wants from us.

     But when we sing, we have to remember to mean what you're saying. If I sang the song, "All praises be, to the King of Kings, and the Lord our God, He is wonderful" but I was thinking about what I was going to eat for lunch, what would I really be singing? Probably, "I hope that I, can eat at Chilli's, maybe I'll get a steak, they're quite wonderful" Do you really think that God cares about my steak? Probably not. When we are singing praises to God, we need to make sure that God hears praises, and not plans for lunch. Sometimes it can be easy to get distracted, like if a little kid starts crying, or someone behind you is talking, to even if the person's shoe next to you is untied, and you're just dying to tell them, but we need to stay focused on what we're singing. Maybe you can tell the person sitting next to you to tie his shoe after the song is over, but when you're singing, you need to keep your mind focused on what you're saying, and devote those few hours of the week that we are worshiping to actually thinking about God, and being reverent.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Should We Clap While Singing to God?

     This is a question that is asked a lot in the Church of Christ; is it wrong to clap while singing praises to God? You'd be surprised at how many congregations actually do this. But is it wrong? Yes. It is. Today I will be discussing the topic, and explaining the answer as best I can.

    First of all, it takes away from the worship. I have been in (and I'm sure most of you have, too) situations where I was worshiping God, and people started clapping. To me, it seemed to be more of them trying to have fun and goof around, when that's not at all the purpose of those songs at all. When we sing praises to God, it's supposed to be about God, not us having fun. There's nothing wrong with having fun, but in Ecclesiastes 3:1 it says, "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven" There's nothing wrong with having fun, but like I said, when we are worshiping God, we need to remember what we're doing, and actually be worshiping. Not trying to make it as fun as we can. Worship doesn't have to be completely boring, we just have to be sincere, and remember where we are, Who we're worshiping, and what we're doing. In Ephesians 5:21 it says that we are to be reverent in our praises to Him. We need to sing from our hearts as I will talk about in a second, and how can we sing from our hearts if we are too wrapped up in ourselves having fun?

     Another reason is that in Ephesians 5:19-21 it says, "addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord in your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ." This is another reason why we shouldn't have instruments, too. In fact, clapping is just like an instrument, but it's attached to your body, so people tend to overlook it. But is clapping being reverent, and singing from the heart? Is it speaking out to someone, or to God? No. It's not. It's not being reverent, it's not being anything. It's just taking something Holy, and changing it to what we want. God never said that He wanted it. In Leviticus 10 we read that Nadab and Abihu tried offering God something that He had not commanded them to, so God struck them dead as you can see in verse 2. God wants us to follow Him strictly, and not to add to what He told us to do. The Bible is a set of rules, not a set of guidelines. In John 14:15, God didn't say, "If you love me, you will follow my commandments as far as you're comfortable with." or, "If you love me, you will follow my commandments and add to them if you want." No. God said, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments." In Ecclesiastes 3:14 it says, "I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, not can anything be taken away from it. God has done it, so that people fear before Him." God is perfect, and we are not. Everything that God set up, the Bible, everything, is perfect. We are mere humans. We are not perfect. We need to remember that what God didn't tell us to do, we don't do, and what He told us to do, we do because He is perfect, and the rules He set up for us are not impossible. In fact, Jesus was perfect too, and He lived under these rules on this Earth. We shouldn't feel the need to add to that, because then it's not perfect.

     I hope that these reasons have showed you why it's wrong to clap, or use instruments during worship. It's a very important issue, and I know that God does not approve of it, as it is a strange offering. It's something that God didn't ask for. It's like if you ask for a pair of Batman socks for your Birthday, and instead you get a piece of foam. You didn't ask for it, you don't want it, you're just going to throw it away. This is the same way that God is with clapping. It's not the time to do it when we're worshiping Him.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Always Beside You

     Sometimes in life, we get discouraged, or something happens to us that knocks us down on our knees. This happens to all of us at some time or another. But we always have to remember that God is always there beside us. We can always go to Him and ask for help, or for Him to be with us. We can always go to God and tell Him our problems, and as long as it's His will, and as long as you're asking for the right things for the right reasons, He'll always be on your side with things. We have a very faithful God, Who never fails us. We should always remember that He's just a prayer away. So next time when something hurts you, remember who's on your side. As long as you're doing the right thing, God will always be there, and will protect you. This doesn't mean that your life will be perfect, but knowing that God is there, and being faithful to Him, and constantly praying to Him, it'll make things easier. Because you'll always know who's there with you. That's why in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 it tells us to pray without ceasing. God always has time to listen, and we need to always have the time to talk to Him. :)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Connections in the Bible-Abraham and Isaac VS the Death of Jesus

     There are some people who say that, since we are New Testament Christians, we don't need the Old Testament. They say that it's useless since we don't follow the Old Testament laws anymore, as Jesus established the Church when He was raised from the dead. But this isn't true at all! There are several connections and prophesies and lessons in the Old Testament that when we learn about them, it will increase our faith tremendously. All throughout the Bible, you will find different connections and patterns, and the more you read and study, the more you realize just how perfect it truly is. Today, I'll be comparing the story of Abraham's sacrifice, VS the death of Jesus. You'd be surprised how much they have in common.

  • First off, if you look in Genesis 22:2, God is telling Abraham to take his only son whom he loved, and to kill him as an offering to God. In Matthew 3:17 it says, "and behold, a voice came from Heaven and said, "This is my beloved Son, with Whom I am well pleased." So the first connection is that in both cases, it was the Father sacrificing the Son. And because both Isaac and Jesus were very loved by their fathers, this was a big sacrifice.
  • Second, I want to look at the sacrifice itself. Back in the Old Testament, the sacrifice was to cover the sin or the person or persons making the sacrifice. Most of the time, it was a sheep, or sometimes doves, or other animals. But with both of these sacrifices, it was human flesh. But not only was it human flesh, it was their own flesh and blood, their sons, that were being sacrificed. The sacrifice of Jesus was to cover our sins, and it also proved Jesus' love and dedication to us, and to God, while the sacrifice of Abraham and Isaac was to test the faith and dedication of Abraham to God.
  • Another thing is that Abraham was the "father of a multitude of nations" as you can read in Genesis 17:5. God is the Father of everyone on this Earth who has been saved by the sacrifice of Jesus. I found this connection very interesting.
  • Another thing was, if you read in Genesis 22:5 we read that Abraham and Isaac went to the place of offering alone. They didn't bring anyone else with them. In the New Testament, we can read that Jesus went to His death alone. 
  • Also, in Genesis 22:6 it tells us that Abraham had Isaac carry the wood that was going to be used for the offering. This is very similar to Jesus carrying the cross that He was crucified on.
  • The last connection I noticed was that in both cases, the son came back alive. Isaac wasn't resurrected like Jesus was, but they did both come back alive, and in both cases a sacrifice was made. With Abraham and Isaac it was a ram being sacrificed, but in the other situation, it was Jesus who had been sacrificed. 
This is just one of the many connections in the Bible. The more of it I read, the more of them I see. So today, I encourage you to study, and look for these connections. It is a truly wonderful experience. :)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Modesty, or Ungratefulness?

Twice a week I help out the public library in Watauga with their toddler and pre-schooler story time  It's wonderful, because the children are beautiful and adorable and I love to spend time with them every week. Today's theme was dinosaurs, and the craft was coloring in a stegosaurus and then using your hand print for the spikes along the spine. I was tidying up the crayons and things afterwards, and a little boy came up to me. He handed me his paper and then said I could have it. At first I said, "Oh no, that's ok!" thinking that he should save his hand prints for his mom. However, I noticed that he had written "To Shara" on it, and he had written his name, and even named the stegosaurus "Mical." How rude would it have been if I had turned down that gift? There he was being sweet and kind and my first reaction was, "No, thank you." I proceeded to hug him and thank him profusely for the sweet gift, and I will be taping it to my bedroom door. How often do we do that, though? Someone could compliment your hair, and we say, "Oh, well I'm having a bad hair day." Someone could say, "You're a great cook!" and we'll reply with, "No, I'm not." Is this modesty, or is it ungratefulness? Is it being humble, or making the other person feel uncomfortable and sheepish for trying to be kind?
This week, if someone compliments the shoes you wear or your pretty singing voice or your lovely face, don't try to negate it with a bad comment of yourself. Accept the compliment, the gift offered to you by someone kind, and thank them.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Entertainment Choices

In Philippians 4:8 it says, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."

     Now, I'm sure you're thinking, "What does this have to do with our entertainment choices?" Well, I'm glad you asked! How are we to keep our minds pure, if we constantly surround ourselves with movies that have impure things? And with recent movies, it can be very difficult to find good, clean movies! Now, unless it's an old Pixar or Disney movie like "A Bug's Life" or "Toy Story 1", then you're probably not going to find a good, clean, no cuss words, awesome movie. So what I like to do, is I have TV Guardian, so I can still watch those movies, but it's clean.

     It's really hard, like I said, to find good movies that don't have any cuss words in it, but we need to keep our minds pure (I did an article on it if you want to read it, go to the link here) and in Titus 12:11 it says, "knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned." This is saying that, if we see, and don't care that what we're watching is wrong, then we are doing wrong too, because aren't keeping these things out of our minds as much as we can. Now, it's a bit difficult to not see sin, I mean, we're human, and live around humans, but hearing and seeing these things intentionally is certainly wrong. So next time you pick out a movie, or TV show, or even a book, make sure that it's clean, because we should always make sure that we keep our minds and hearts pure. :)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

What We Need and What We Want

My life is overflowing with blessings. Sometimes it feels as if they were just dumped by the bucket load on my head. My parents are very, very generous towards me. They give me so much, and make my life so easy. They provide me with a roof over my head, a warm bed every night of my life, food whenever I need it, books to read, clothes to wear, shoes for my feet, medicine when I’m sick. They pay for my education, and even care enough about it to give me my education at home. Above all else, they raised me in God’s church, and taught me about His Word from a very young age. My dad is an especially generous dad, because he goes above and beyond what is necessary for him to do. Ever since I can remember he’s done things like take me to the gas station for snacks and drinks when we were driving around town; he’s willing to drive me wherever I need to go, and he doesn’t complain; he buys me not just clothing to keep me warm, but pretty clothes and shoes that are not necessarily needs, but wants. He spends his time on me, not just his money. He provides for my needs, and far beyond what I even ask for, and I’m sure that your dad does as well, because that’s what loving fathers do.
Now, just because I want something, does that mean I always get it? No, absolutely not. If that were the case, I’d have a whole petting zoo filled with fluffy animals that I wouldn’t know how to take care of. My dad doesn’t give me everything I ask for for a few reasons. He either said “no” because he knew I didn’t really need what I was asking for (I mean, do I really need a pony? No), or we didn’t have the money for it, or he was saving his money for something special later on, like a road trip or Christmas presents. He wasn’t saying “no” just to be mean and make me sad.
Just like my earthly father, my Heavenly Father provides for my needs, even better than my dad can. In Matthew 7:9-11 Jesus says, “Or which of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in Heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” Without my even asking for them, He granted me a loving family, a loving church family, citizenship in a country which protects my God-given freedom of speech and religion, and good health. He’s blessed me with salvation, which was purchased by His Son’s Blood, and the ability to be a member of His Church. He gave me His Word, and the ability to read and study it on my own so I can know what He’s done for me, and what I am expected to do in return. He blesses me by answering my prayers. In Matthew 7:7-8 we read, “Ask and it will be given to you; Seek, and you will find; Knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, it will be opened.” Also, look in John 14:13-14. Jesus told His apostles, “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in my name, I will do it.” As evidenced in this scripture, God and Christ want to bless us, and the only stipulation is that we must first ask for it.
But, also like our earthly fathers, God will say no to us on occasion. Is this to be mean to us, or to teach us a lesson? No! God denies us things we ask for when He knows they’re not good for us, and there’s something better waiting for us up on the horizon. I can’t tell you how many times God has said no to one thing I’ve asked only to give me something better later on, which I wouldn’t have been able to have if I had gotten what I wanted previously. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us to, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.” If we trust in God and His ability to provide what we need, and to never abandon us, He will make straight our paths, and guide us with His Word, like it says in Psalm 119:105: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” We must also trust that he says “No” with good reason.
Again, God wants to bless us, but we must first ask. So, Pray without ceasing like it says in First Thessalonians 5:17, and remember that in Romans 8:28 we’re told, “for those who love God, all things work together for good.”


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Photo of the Week

This dress I got at Cato for $30! It was a bit form fitting at the top, so I just got a cardigan so you wouldn't be able to notice as much. The cardigan was $40 at Dillards,  but I know there are other cute ones that are cheaper (we were in a rush trying to find one).The dress covers my knees, isn't too tight, and even though the cardigan is crochet, the dress covers the shoulders completely, so you can't see them. I had the hardest time finding a modest dress, but here's one that I had found!

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Popularity of Modesty

     A lot of people don't want to dress modestly because honestly, it's not a very popular. It is becoming more and more popular to show off everything you've got. But, the desire to dress modestly isn't that unpopular! Now, a lot of people mistake the meaning, and dress immmodestly not knowingly, but if you thin about it, who would want to go around claiming to be immmodest? Mostly just Hollywood people who want to be seen as daring and easy. But, if you go online and type in the word "modesty", you can find countless articles on it. Sometimes when I'm bored, I like to read fashion articles to see what the latest styles are, and try to find a way to feature them on my blog. I'd like to say that about 65% of the articles say something about how you should try to be modest. Modesty isn't just something that God thought up to annoy shoppers. Modesty is something that we have for a reason, and most girls see this whether they were taught to or not. I mean, almost any girl would be hesitant going out in public wearing just a bikini just to go shopping. It's not that modesty isn't an unpopular idea, it's just that most people don't know what modesty is.

     Now, I do admit that there are a lot of girls who don't want to be modest. I know this for a fact. There are several girls who dress specifically to draw attention to themselves. But that's not everyone. There are so many people who know exactly why modesty is important. I'll give you an example; the other day while I was shopping for a new dress (which will be featured in this week's photo) I saw three girls who were shopping for a dress for one of them. One of the girls saw a dress, picked it up and said, "What about this one?" The girl who was shopping for the dress took it, looked at it, then held it up in front of her to see what it would look like if she had it on. She then said "No. It goes above my knees. If I sad down or bent over, you would be able to see too much leg." The other friend tried talking her into getting it, but the first girl just didn't want to be immodest. I know that this is just one person, but at the same time, dressing modestly isn't something unheard of. So next time you start getting discouraged, remember that modesty isn't something that no one even considers, but something that most girls want. This is one of the many reasons that we need to let our lights shine, so that the girls who want to be modest can see how to be modest.