Praise God in victory
Cry to God in pain
Talk to God in loneliness
Listen to God in confusion
Pray in sickness
Rejoice in health
Plead in sin
Praise God in victory
Cry to God in pain
Talk to God in loneliness
Listen to God in confusion
Pray in sickness
Rejoice in health
Plead in sin
I suppose the basic answer to that question is nothing. However, I’m sure God has some things planned for me, and it’ll sure be interesting to find out just what those things are. Maybe not what I think.
I have mixed feelings about what my parents have always wanted for my life- to go to UCLA law school and be successful and classy from there. Pictured above is the beautiful smog-filled LA skyline from a congested freeway.
Currently, I am an economics major, and am about to declare an accounting minor (actually, of late I’ve been reconsidering it). The only thing is… I don’t know if I like accounting. It seems a little boring. At this point, economics seems a little more interesting to me, more fluid and relevant to the world around me. So I’m not sure exactly what I want to do. Sometimes I wish God would just whisper it in my ear. But this would be a little scary, and also, I wonder if I would listen to Him if He did tell me. Maybe He doesn’t care all that much as long as I give Him the glory in all things. But come on, it must matter a little? Surely he doesn’t want me to be an engineer, because I’m not good at math. I would imagine that He would want me to do something that suits me… but what does suit me? And don’t say being a writer, because I will always be a writer, and there are reasons that I don’t want to do that full time.
Well, on a slightly unrelated note, I just sent out an email to inquire about the position of staff writer on a university newsletter. We’ll see where all this takes me, and I suppose I must have faith that I’ll be taken to the right place. It’s time to get out of the driver’s seat.
I must be honest, lately I’ve been a little troubled by the age-old question of “why so many religions?” This never puzzled me much before, but recently, it has been a nag. So this morning, I did some research on Islam, because I feel like I should know a little bit so I can at least have an intelligent conversation if the topic ever comes up. Why Islam? Well, Islam has similar roots as Judaism, and consequently, Christianity, and I thought that some people on the internet would have a lot to say in defense of it. I was right, and much to my dismay, it wasn’t all of the usual, emotional stuff. I read an article about how supposedly there were scientific things in the Quran about biology that couldn’t have been known at the time through humans (El-Najjar 3). Similar claims are made about the Bible too.
But the more I researched, the more I realized the flaws in this religion. Of course, people also point out flaws in Christianity, but those are of a different nature, and as a believer, obviously I am rightly biased towards the validity of the Good Book. It turns out that many of the ancient mosques, instead of facing towards Mecca, are actually pointed closer to the direction of Jerusalem (The Quran’s Archeological Evidence). If you are interested, you can read more about it in this article. Of course, that isn’t conclusive proof that Islam is whack, since there is no conclusive proof, it just kind of steered me in a personal way back towards my own faith, towards Jerusalem.
Another interesting thing that maybe you didn’t know is that Muslims also believe that Jesus walked the earth, but they claim that he was a prophet who was not the resurrected son of God (Godlas 1). Now this gets interesting. Why would Muslims claim that Jesus existed, just not in the same way that Christians believe? Why these commonalities? Wouldn’t it be easier for them to just deny Jesus altogether? If there is agreement between the Judeo-Christian camp and Muslim one on something, where strife has existed for centuries, then couldn’t you conclude that there’s something there, that one of them is right and the other, wrong? And which one has really stood the test of time? Now you decide that. I know I’ve decided.
I think there’s a rather reasonable explanation for the supposed scientific evidence in the Qu’ran, even if it isn’t just a coincidence. God has definitely had relationships before with people who later disobeyed Him. Solomon, Samson, just to name a couple that I am familiar with. Isn’t it possible that part of the Qu’ran was divinely inspired, possibly through some kind of prophet who later went rogue? Or perhaps some kind of mix-up? Look, don’t get mad, it’s just a theory.
The purpose of this post was is not to put down Muslims and accuse them of things right off the bat. I don’t have too many logical reasons for what I believe either because I’m not some kind of Biblical scholar. However, I would encourage anyone to think about why they believe what they believe. Don’t overthink it, because overthinking leads to dark places. Think about it, because you’re bound to think about it eventually, and if you didn’t think about it calmly, you’ll think about it in emotional state where it would be better if you didn’t think about it so much. Know why you believe what you believe, but don’t go looking for conclusive proof, you won’t find that. However, one thing that many people come to conclude is that the universe could not have been created by accident. Along with it being unlikely, it’s depressing to think of things like that. So then, who did create it? I would imagine that whoever did would want to communicate with his creation, either directly or, I don’t know… through a book maybe? Just thinking out loud here. Prophets? Yes, that makes sense. So which one is it, now that I’ve gotten this far? Is it Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism (which I still need to research), Judaism, or Christianity? If you choose Christianity, well then, you have to choose it on a much deeper level than that, but it’s a start. It’s a start of a relationship based on redemption, a relationship with the one True God. So it’s not just a religion, and if it is just a religion, then you’re probably approaching it the wrong way.
El-Najjar, Hassan Ali. “The Scientific Evidence That God Exists and the Holy Quran is His Message to Humanity.” Aljazeerah, 2007. Web. 4 Nov. 2013.
Godlas, Alan. “Jesus: A Summary of the Points About Which Islam and Christianity Agree and Disagree.” Web. 4 Nov. 2013.
“The Quran’s Archeological Evidence.” Debate.org.Web. 4 Nov. 2013.
The life of a Christian is wrought with all kinds of moral predicaments, as it should be, I suppose. Do I talk to this homeless guy? Get a divorce? Confront the annoying person? Take this job? Marry him/her? Forge that signature? Tell the lie or spare the embarrassment? Well, I don’t need to tell you about all the kinds of decisions that a person will face, I’m sure we all have enough examples of our own.
My latest moral predicament has been centered around a short play that I am writing as an assignment for my playwriting class. I went in thinking that, somehow, I was going to glorify God through this play, find a way to “witness” if you will. It wouldn’t be easy, but I was going to do it. Not in the most obvious way, of course, because that probably wouldn’t work for my assignment. So I thought, “maybe I’ll do some kind of allegory.” Take a page from CS Lewis, yeah, won’t that be clever.
Now, instead of that great idea that I was going to mysteriously bring into fruition, now I have just kind of an ordinary play, but with some creative twists, the kind of trash us writers live for. I have four college kids in line for Space Mountain at Disneyland. All of them are Christian, but they’re not exactly exemplary people. One is a girl named Lizzie who is a new friend of a bubbly creature named Jeanine. Then there is a couple, Natalie and Jay. Throughout this interaction, Lizzie feels excluded and wonders why she was invited in the first place. But Natalie and Jay, the perfect couple, suddenly engage in a nasty fight, and Lizzie, too, explodes. The themes in this play are mainly hypocrisy, human nature, and social position. Oh, and by the way, the word ‘bastard’ is included in this play. I tried to avoid all other language and borderline language. How do we feel about that?
Even though everyone is a jerk, Jeanine, at least, realizes her imperfection, and the voice of reason, or God, if I may be so bold, has the last word. In a subtle kind of way, of course, because us writers are continually trying to be subtle and at the same time, powerful with our words.
Well, I’m not so sure about this whole thing. Is this the way that God wants me to bring him glory, or should I just shout the message from the rooftops instead, as they would say? Mind you, Jesus spoke in parables to deliberately confuse those who were not willing to understand, but well, he was Jesus. And He always spoke most directly about the kingdom of God. So I don’t know if that applies to me at all.
Well, no one said that life wouldn’t be difficult and filled with conflicts of interest. If anyone has any suggestions for this play and/or my soul, they are welcome. I have already made some changes that I think are favorable for my purposes, but I still wonder if I should just scrap it.
I’ve posted many a time before about social anxiety/self esteem issues. I just feel like a fool sometimes in public. It’s not that I don’t talk enough, usually. It’s that I talk in order to spare awkward silences, and I wind up saying stupid stuff, and then when awkward silences do come up, I feel that they’re my fault. I perpetually fear that I am offending others or annoying them. I feel as if my very presence is a burden.
The worst part is, I have no way of knowing whether these things are true or the extent to which it is true. But I believe it, even though I know that it’s possible that people don’t see me as as much of a moron as I do.
The thing is, I have very good reason to believe this is true. Very good reason. Growing up, my friends always told me I was awkward, even if they didn’t exactly use that word. And, as I’ve written about before, this hurt me deeply. I don’t want to blame these people for saying it. It was only true- and that’s why it hurt me so much.
I had friends in high school and middle school, so it could have been worse, but they always seemed to have their own lives, carefully separated from mine. They always had at least one other friend that they clearly liked far more than me. And how can I blame them for that? Good for them, what right did I have to be jealous? I had the great relationship with my dad, and no one could have taken that away from me. But why did it hurt me so much when they would talk about their other friends, like what they did on the weekend without me? I suppose it was because I knew that they regarded me more than I them. So now I’m writing about it and maybe someday I’ll be in therapy talking about it.
The thing is, I’ve come to realize that I need God’s help. There’s no way that I can ever navigate the social world, let alone the spiritual world, without it. I can try and try until I’m blue in the face to do the right things, to be the best I can be and so on and so forth. But after a while, I realize that instead of trying to do things for God, I should do things through God and for God. I know, the distinction seems insignificant, but I think it is possible to draw on strength other than your own. Possible, but difficult and mystical in practice.
So today is actually Day 3, but I couldn’t post this yesterday for technical reasons. Anyway, stay tuned for Day 3 later!
If you’re unfamilar with the apple detox, it’s basically a thing where you eat nothing but apples for three days. Apples of the jenneting variety are recommended, like red delicious, but I myself am using the Arkansas Black as pictured above . It is supposed to detoxify your body, and hopefully your soul a little as well, leaving you refreshed and rejuvenated when it’s all over. On the night of the third day, you’re supposed to drink a couple table spoons to half a cup (Edgar Cayce, who originally discovered the apple diet through divine intervention apparently, recommends half a cup). And this is suppose to flush out your colon, if you catch the drift.
On day one, I had a grand total of 6 apples. I felt okay in general, just a little weak and tired, but able to function. There where times when it was difficult to be cheerful. Only one bowel movement occurred, in case you are curious about the effect of the detox. This morning I have a darker yellow urine to report, which was a little alarming. “Why isn’t my body happy? I haven’t been giving it any junk!” is what crossed my mind. But I am trying to remain optimistic.
But I feel that I need to focus on reaping the spiritual benefits of the detox. Along with literally cleansing your body, I believe it can also cleanse your heart of a lot of the unnecessary junk that has built up over the years. It can be seen as a conquering of the flesh, that is, the desires of the body. The flesh can drive us to do crazy things, and if it is not tamed, it will control us for our whole lives. That is why Jesus died- to free us from this
to free us from this unfortunate reality.
When Jesus was wandering in wilderness for forty days, he had a familiar visitor, the Devil. Here’s a little snippet of their conversation:
The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: “ ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”
Man shall not live on bread alone, I’ve always thought those were such powerful words. It is somewhat intuitive, but at the same time, it is a little contrary to our base desires. So what does this mean? It means that we must make every effort to tame our desires (I am definitely talking about MUCH more than food) and to “Die to ourselves.” I would not advise trying to fast for forty days. You’ll probably just die. If you read the rest of Matthew 4, there’s also a sentence about not “testing” God.
I’m not trying to make out that I’m all righteous because I’ve decided not to eat normal food for three days. I just think that there’s a lot to be learned from fasts and detoxes, as well as health benefits gained.
So probably the first lesson is to trust God. If you read the rest of Matthew, there are so many great illustrations of this principle. Matthew in general is just dense with information, not to say other books aren’t, but I think Matthew is one that is easier to decipher and appreciate for those of us who may not have the longest attention span (thanks to the media and pop culture).
Does this mean that I should stop stressing about the color of my urine? Probably. That I should stop worrying that the detox won’t work for me because I have some kind of disease? Yes. Because what is disease, but an abnormality of the flesh? And who healed diseases, um, Jesus! And what can separate me from the love of God (as it is written)? Nothing….
Well, I’ll tell you what happens tomorrow, God willing. Happy apple munching to all!
I have never been an animal rights activist, PETA gal, or whale whacko. I believe that the problems that humans face should be addressed before those of animals. No offense to the animals or activists who have genuine concern.
Last night, I tuned into the last half of the documentary “Blackfish.” I can’t say that I went in biased towards the whales. Last summer, I visited SeaWorld for the third time (the second that I actually remember). I enjoyed seeing the dolphins, the sealions, turtles and yes, Shamu in all his corny amusement park splendor. I also enjoyed going on Journey to Atlantis and riding this really dorky kiddie ride with my father. I think we got some looks.
But I don’t think I’ll be going back to SeaWorld. It is tainted for me now, along with many of my good memories in ignorance. I’m not even all that disappointed that I can’t find my SeaWorld hat.
It truly amazes me how SeaWorld can get away with lying about things. How can they call themselves educational (which is their justification for keeping animals in captivity) when they deny biological facts, like that whales in the wild can live up to human life spans and that the flabby Shamu dorsal fin is not a normal whale attribute?
And how many trainers need to die before some important changes are made?
If whales are kept in captivity, can’t they at least have the opportunity to roam around more and have more food to eat, isn’t there a way? Clearly, something is wrong if SeaWorld trainers are dying and Dorsal fins are collapsing. Why doesn’t anyone care about anything but profits? What about having some respect for God’s creatures, huh?
SeaWorld, according to their website, does not acquire its dolphins through the inhumane Japanese method anymore as documented in “The Cove.” But why should I necessarily believe what they say?
I never thought I would say it, but here it goes: Free the Whales! Or at least make their lives a little easier. I believe that an American business is capable of at least that much!
Last night, in one of those blissful in-between states between being awake and sleeping, the times that I feel most close to God (and now my atheist friends will use this as evidence that belief in God is irrational because I feel closer to Him in a half-conscious state), but I felt that I made a very important connection, or rather God showed me an important connection, and I thought it was so important that I absolutely had to blog about it. It was a spiritual click, something that seemed quite brilliant. And now, I can’t remember it. Well, I hope I remember it if it was important, but if not I’ll leave it at this and talk a bit about my experiences today instead.
So, if you read my blog, you’d probably get the impression that I’m someone who is naturally kind of down, but doesn’t want to be. You would be right. It is part of my nature, but I try to fight against it, even though very often it seems like a loosing battle. But I know that God can defeat my absurd emotions, and I look forward to the victory.
But today was one of the good days, truly. I feel generally happy and fulfilled, like I have a good life and I am grateful for it.
Today just got off to a good start. I woke up early by my biological clock, even though I forgot to set my alarm. I thank God for that now. I had time to make myself look presentable, which is unusual. By the way, I need to go into a thing someday about whether or not makeup and fancy dress is a sin. But I’ll leave that to another day.
The morning commute was manageable, and I made it out alive, so I considered that a success. So I go to my classes, and I am able to focus a little better because I came more prepared. And they seemed like generally productive classes. But here is where the real game changer came in. And I think God put this in my life on purpose.
In my playwriting class, we were asked to write scenarios for possible one-scene plays and share them in class. A scenario is basically an outline of a play. Anyway, one of my classmates scenarios involved a Christian boy and a diva-ish, preppy popular girl who was very ungrateful. She would complain about not having a car and little things like that. Meanwhile, a friend of hers had real problems, like a father who got a heart attack among other tragic incidences. Anyway, after the scenario was read, we talked about it. People in the class expressed how they knew people like the first girl, and how they hated those kinds of people. And that’s when it hit me, that I can be like that sometimes. Not the popular and preppy part, but the ungrateful part. I realized, as I was sitting there “I don’t want to be like that at all.” It’s so counterproductive, not conducive at all to the things that I want to do in life. And how does that reflect on God if I can’t be grateful?
So, things went well after that. I mentioned the campus EV I was going to in my last post. Well, I showed up at the designated area on campus, and there was no one there. So it seemed, but then I saw a boy sitting on a bench. I sensed that he might have been there for the same purpose as me, so I started talking to him and turns out he was leading the EV. He didn’t actually think it would be good to evangelize with me, but he talked to me to get a feel for what I’m about, which is understandable. And then I met someone else from the group. They seemed very nice, maybe a little judgmental about me not going to church, and maybe they emphasize the formal church experience just a little too much, but I understand them, and I think they’re sincere. No one can be perfect, after all, you just pray that we’ll all get a little closer.
So then after that, I had dinner with an old friend and went to see her dorm, which was fun. We went to this thai restaurant on campus. I got curry noodles and thai iced tea, which really helped me power through my last class of the day! It’s also funny how caffeine helps me so much with my self expression skills. It just makes me feel like my brain and my mouth have a much better connection, as opposed to a lot of the time when they don’t seem to communicate that much. I hope one day the Holy Spirit Himself will give me that kind of energy!
Well, I’m very sorry if this seems a lot like a journal, and that I didn’t get to do any actual evangelizing today. Hopefully surrounding people who walked by picked up some snippets. It’s just that I’m happy! No, things are not completely resolved, and no, my life is not perfect, but hey, it’s close enough for me. I can work with this! Yes, God has blessed me and I can more than work with it, I feel like I can live, like I can go on, and keep on going and thrive forever. I feel self-confidence, can you believe it! I not only know, but at the moment I feel that God created me for a reason. I’m not a worthless, awkward alien, but I’m a human being, a child of God, and so are you.
As you can glean from the title, I saw the movie Gravity today. Half the time I believe I was cringing or making very unattractive faces. It really “pulled me in” (pun not originally intended) because the acting was good, and the sense of tension and mortal terror that they were going for was achieved. I knew what was going to happen in the end, but I just couldn’t help wondering, questioning, feeling. I even got reasonably close to crying one time (and I actually don’t cry much in movies, even though I’m such a sap).
I thought it was funny how you could hear sounds when the things were crashing in space. It was not true to science, but I see why the director did it. Without the sound, something just would have been missing, because we as humans are so accustomed to sound.
And here’s the part where I, without shame, try to relate the movie I saw with my personal thoughts. Why am I such a girl? Can’t I just talk about an action movie without getting all weird?
Gravity. The laws of physics that we naively believe govern the natural world as independent entities that came about through their own means. The laws of society that can seem almost as strict.
I never really learned to use those things to my advantage. I am graceless, uncoordinated, awkward. Just today I picked up tennis again. To be fair to myself, I haven’t played in a long time. But I performed badly today, either hitting the net or hitting homers a solid portion of the time. Not that I was ever much of a pro, yet it’s the only sport that I have potential for being passable at. So I think I’ll give it a shot. Ugh, another pun.
I’ve never had good posture either. I just kind of let gravity do it’s thing to my body. Not to mention, I’m not exactly a walking embodiment of physical fitness either. I always feel like something is weighing me down, keeping me from getting in shape. I think it’s just a lack of willpower.
And with people. I want to be diplomatic, funny, and charming. But my own nervousness and fear of being dull, jerky, and uncomfortable holds me back. I let the pressure, the “gravity” hold me down instead of letting myself be grounded by it
When things aren’t going well, I like to think about heaven, an ideal world with beautiful views and no worries. I like to think that I’ll get there, Jesus will hand me a pina collada or something, and we’ll shoot the breeze in this perfect paradise with puffy clouds, islands and classical architecture. And then I’ll meet all the people who weren’t too fond of me in this life, the people that were too cool for me, the people who gave me charity, and everyone else, all the colors of the rainbow, and we’ll all hold hands and laugh together and dance around in the most beautiful harmony.
I think that my idea of heaven is a little distorted, but that’s okay. I guess I’ll just leave it up to God to decide what He likes. And it shouldn’t just be about the atmosphere there anyway, the most important thing about it is that we’re spending eternity with God. Chew on that. But what I should be focusing on now, is what I can do while I’m here on earth. And yes, there’s no guarantee that I’ll be here long, but that doesn’t mean that every second is not a gift, to be used in the best way possible. So maybe it would behoove me to try and be comfortable in my own skin, to get acclimated to this thing called gravity, and fine tune my skill at defying the norm (but in a way that is productive), while at the same time, learning to love the individuals that comprise this world that is both surprisingly orderly and excessively crazy.
This morning, while brushing my teeth (which always gives me good ideas) I realized an important reason why it is often so hard to be happy, to throw your cares and frustrations under a rug, and rejoice in the fact that you are saved by Jesus, have food to eat, and all your faculties at disposal. If you do not have food to eat and all your faculties at disposal, then you may have permission to be mopey from time to time, so this doesn’t apply to you.
The reason it is hard to be happy is not that you haven’t bought enough self help books, or haven’t meditated enough. The reason may not even be that your life lacks meaning, though very often that is the case. It may very well be that you have faulty assumptions about life itself. We’ve all heard the phrase “Life isn’t fair.” But do we really believe it, all the time? Don’t we sometimes try to build our happiness on crumbling foundations, like the assumptions that: life is essentially fair, people are rational, and others will try to see things from our perspective?
How do you think Jesus felt about getting crucified? He knew it was coming, but still He was a little down about it at times, naturally. It wasn’t fair that the people wanted him dead. What crime did he commit? So life wasn’t fair to him, why should it be fair all the time to anyone?
And then, of course, there’s trying to build joy on faulty foundations. Yes, now that I’ve imparted my nugetette of worldly wisdom, it’s time for the spiritual. Ever try to build joy on faulty foundations? Joy, as opposed to happiness, which is deeper and more understated, which requires, in my opinion of the word, a kind of security and peace that you cannot glean from a new alarm system or a safer car. Joy is the conundrum, because I believe there is only one source of it. I think you can guess what that is. But sometimes, we try to build it ourselves. We try to build it off yet another faulty foundation, the principle that we are masters of our own destiny, the final arbitrators when it comes to our little slice of humanity. We erect it from the fruits of our success and adorn it with the musings from our sentimentality. And then, one day, it just sinks down, because we built it on sand. Ooopps.