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JFH Staff Blog | October 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Review - GLO - The Bible For The Digital World

The idea of an interactive digital Bible may cause a few people to scratch their heads and say, "But why?!" To be honest, the concept sounded a bit intriguing, but for the most  part, I couldn't visualize what the fuss could be about. An interactive Bible? Sure, I can see that possibly being cool, but what's wrong with our own personal paper Bible we can hold and carry around with us? Nothing, of course, but for those glued to a computer all day -- whether portable or desktop -- something like "Glo" may be exactly what they need.

"Glo: The Bible For The Digital World" is a three-disc DVD-based program that is installable for your PC (Glo for Mac is coming in 2010). Glo is unfortunately a bit of a resource hog, needing a whopping 18 gigabytes of your hard drive space and 1GB of RAM if you're using Window XP or 2GB for Vista or Windows 7. Granted, most new computers come with pretty big hard drives and a nice amound of RAM, so installing the Bible is hardly a waste of space, but it's something to keep in mind if you're already running low on hard drive space. It's also nice that Glo doesn't need to run off of a disc, so you don't need to lug the discs around or need to pop it in every time you need to run it. But why is Glo so big? The digital Bible boasts 2,382 High-Res photographs, 7,500 Encyclopedia articles, 463 Virtual tours, 689 Works of Art, and 3.5 hours of HD Video... that is, all in addition to the entire Bible accessible within a couple mouse clicks.


 

When you open the Glo program, a beautifully minimalistic black, starry menu pops up displaying the title "Explore The World Of The Bible." It instructs the user to select a lens for which to view the Biblical "world" and offers six different portals -- "Bible," "Timeline," "Atlas," "Topical," "Media," and "MyGlo." It also features a search box right below that menu, so you can search the whole entire Glo library right away.

So let's take a look at each individual section...



BIBLE
When I first opened up the program after installing it (which takes quite a bit of time), I immediately clicked on "Bible." When you do this, a screen displaying "Old Testament" on the left and "New Testament" on the right pops up and gives a breakdown of each book beneath the title. From this screen -- and really any screen in Glo -- there are colored tabs on your left which, once your mouse highlights them, expand to allow you to browse any of the six lenses. You can also access a journal where you can view any notes you make next to scripture references at any time. You will also be able to start what they call a new "session" so that you can jump around the program and save your searches or studies. This allows you to open multiple search windows - sort of like a web browser - and then save them upon exiting Glo, which is great if you are in the middle of researching something but need to close Glo or reboot your computer. But within the "Bible" section, you can simply choose a book, and with one click are brought to a break down of chapters, including an introduction. Once you click on a chapter, it brings you to the verses and you can view study notes, increase or decrease the text size, take a screen shot in an image or text form, or even select and copy text for use elsewhere. Right-clicking on a verse brings up a little control panel that allows you to send the scripture to a different lens, add a note, or just return to the passage. I had clicked on John chapter 2 and it suggested a video in the lower right hand corner when I selected verse 7. The videos are part of a series titled "In His Shoes." Author Troy Schmidt narrates his journey tracing the steps of Christ today. The music and presentation are a bit overly dramatic (and Schmidt tends to sound a lot like a news reporter in his delivery of the presentation), but the video still serves as an interesting added feature to give the Bible exploration another dimension.


TIMELINE
Clicking on "Timeline," you're brought to a screen where it breaks down the Bible in chronological order from Creation to New Testament. Clicking on any point brings up further selections. For example, I clicked on "New Testament" and it brought up "The Life Of Jesus" and "The Early Church" as well as several subcategories. Clicking on the subcategory "The Church In Antioch" then expands a list of events like "Peter Released From Prison" or "Book Of James Is Written." Clicking on the latter brings up a separate list of Scripture references, Articles, and Photos. Other sections bring up Virtual Tour videos or famous Art as well. It's a pretty nice function for exploring the events of Scripture or trying to do research for teaching or personal study.



ATLAS
"Atlas" brings up a beautiful map that focuses on Egypt, Arabia, Babylon, Persia, etc. With the click of your mouse, you can drag the map around to look at other areas of the world. The map may be one of the bigger features for the program to load, so I found it taking longer than most other sections to navigate to. But it's no reason why. The map is a greatly detailed satellite-style view and you can zoom in and out at will. So when you click on a highlighted area like "Judea," a list of features pops up similar to those found on the Timeline. There are 171 results in Glo pertaining to Judea. It pulls up 43 Scripture references, 1 Article, 26 Photographs, 54 pieces of Artwork, 33 Virtual Tours, 8 Maps, and 6 Interactive Documentaries. It's a cool way to search the Bible by Biblical locations.



TOPICAL
Clicking on "Topical" displays a page of three different sections: "Biblical World," "Christian Faith," and "Life." Clicking on one of them, for example "Biblical World," zooms in to a set of submenus. "Biblical World" offers "Animals," "Biblical Life,"  "Peoples," "Writings," "Languages," "Plants," "Climate," and "Lands Of The Bible. "Christian Faith" offers "Spiritual Beings,""The Church," "The Bible," "Salvation," "Sin," "Man," "Holy Spirit," "Jesus Christ," "God," and "End Times," while "Life" displays "My Life," "911 Life in Crisis," "Life With God," "Life With Others." Clicking on "Jesus Christ" under "Christian Faith" brings up even more subcategories, and clicking on "Deity," for example, displays the search results section which displays 23 Scripture references and 2 Articles. This seems like a great way to prepare for a teaching or study, or if you have your own personal questions about something that you'd like to learn more about. The title "911 Life In Crisis" seemed like an intriguing title to me, so when I clicked on it, it was cool to find it lists such touchy subjects as Homosexuality, Abortion, Marital Affair, Divorce, etc. Topics like Divorce bring up Scripture references and even links to YouTube videos and online articles.



MEDIA
"Media" brings up the search results screen right away, displaying 3,749 media results. Here is where you can view over 2,300 photos, over 700 pieces of Artwork, 525 Virtual Tour videos, 143 maps, and the "In His Shoes" documentary. Out of curiousity, I clicked on "Church Of the Holy Sepulcher" under Virtual Tours and it brought up a cross-section diagram of the church with clickable sections that zoom into the diagram and allow you to click and see real-life photos of the church. Further clicking reveals photos inside that give you the opportunity to click on different views inside of that view, with text describing or explaining different features. It's a brilliant feature and a great way to bring some of these Biblical locations to life! Other tours, like "The Tabernacle at the Sinai" give a computer-rendered illustration of what it may have looked like, with the option to zoom in and even view Moses' personal tent. You can zoom in further and check out views of the Tabernacle, too - from the Bronze Laver to the Bronze Altar and even an inside view to peek at the Ark of the Covenant and the cherubims on top of it!



MyGlo
Finally, the last lens is titled "MyGlo." MyGlo lists what features will be coming soon. It lists Animated Maps and a Reading Plan, scheduled to release next month, as well as an Audio Bible and Expert Videos (from Max Lucado, Joel Hunter, and others) both releasing in in the first Quarter of 2010. Lastly, it lists "My Apps" which features the HD "In His Shoes" documentary, and "My Journal," which compiles your scripture comments and notes into one location. I was under the impression you'd be able to actually write journal notes directly into the journal, but apparently it only compiles notes you make elsewhere in Glo. Still, it's pretty nice that it also attaches the scripture to your journal along with your note, so you can make your own personalized study if needbe.

In Conclusion...
Overall, I have to say I'm really impressed with what Glo has to offer. While it's hardly a substitute for the feeling of holding the pages of the Word of God in your hands to browse through and reflect on, Glo is a wonderful tool and essential for your Bible study needs. Those wanting a quick and easy reference for their teaching needs will also enjoy having this digital tool. The maps, photographs, virtual tours, and artwork are a nice addition to the Word and I myself look forward to digging in a bit more to bring an added dimension to my personal studying. With everything going more and more digital and handheld, it'll be intriguing to see where Glo goes next. The fact that they're already planning new features is exciting, and I'd love to see this becoming handheld (aside from a laptop) in the near future. What a great resource!

- John DiBiase

Visit www.bibleglo.com to learn even more about Glo!

And purchase your copy of Glo on sale right now at Amazon.com

More Than Pretty Words

My friend and I were talking the other day about a question that is one of the most frequently asked of Christians: “If God’s such a loving God… why does so much bad stuff happen in the world??”

That’s a tough one. I’ve asked it. And if we’re honest… I think a lot of us have.

Consider this definition with me for a moment.

Darkness: (noun) the absence of light.

If the world’s such a dark, harsh and hurting place… perhaps it’s not because God doesn’t care. Instead, consider what it would be like if the people that He’s placed on this earth were carrying out the purpose they were created for.

         Matthew 5:14-16 says, "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

As Christians, our role is to be the light. This means living in such a way that it makes a difference. Living in such a way that everything surrounding is changed because of it.

I can often be so guilty of being a person of pretty words. I love to talk, to dream. While these things are great and so needed, it’s the action that qualifies them. James talks about this very thing saying that without turning our faith into action, it’s simply dead. (James 2:26)

One of my favorite songs EVER is called “Say Your Prayers” by the band, The Wedding. The chorus of their song rings out with the proposed words of God saying, “If you love Me then just love Me, don’t you give Me pretty words. Lay your life down at the alter, let me see how serious you are.”

Goshh these words convict me! They stop me in my tracks begging an answer to the question, “What am I truly living out?” They remind me that God KNOWS my heart, and my mere words mean nothing to Him. He demands my life to follow in His steps.

One of the things that drew everyone to Jesus was how He was IN the world… but never OF it. He was in the midst of complete darkness… yet He was always the light. See, the world doesn’t need some put on “religion” that hides within the walls of a church or throws pamphlets at passers by. They need YOU to live Christ in a REAL way… IN the world.

 

Did you know…

  • There are more people in slavery now than at any other time in human history.
  • Slavery still exists in the U.S.- CIA estimates more than 1,000,000 people are enslaved in the US today.
  • Every 3.6 seconds someone dies of hunger.
  • At least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day.
  • The 3rd cause of death in young people ages 15-34 is suicide.
  • 1 out of 4 students claiming to be Christians when they go to college say they aren’t when they come out.

 

Wow. These issues are real. And if we close our mouths and open our eyes for a moment, we will realize the incredible needs around us. Instead of blaming God and asking why there is world hunger… maybe He has every right to ask that question of US!

I share these statistics with you not to depress, but to remind us all that the world is SO much bigger than ourselves. And in this world full of all kinds of needs, are ALLL kinds of GIFTS and ABILITIES and SKILLS within each one of us, to serve and SAVE those people! THAT’S the exciting part.

            I challenge you and myself, to make our pretty words our actions. To truly open our eyes to the needs around us… and use what we’ve been given to DO something about them.

 

“Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3:18

 

  --> Here is just one of many amazing ways to serve: http://www.worldvision.org/content.nsf/about/aboutus-home

 

Sunday, October 25, 2009

We Recommend - Grammatrain, 'Lonely House'

Ah yes, grunge. The Seattle heavy rock sound made popular in the nineties by artists like Nirvana spilled over to the Christian market and Forefront Records put out Grammatrain's Lonely House in 1995. Sadly, the label would kind of force the band to water down their sound with their 1997 sophomore record, Flying, but Lonely House was an honest and pure project. Dark and brooding in many places, the highlight of the complex album is arguably the prayerful "Need" - a rock "ballad" with teeth, and a message any believer can really relate to, "I know they really think they see an image of maturity. But if I was what I should be wouldn't I be on my knees?" Fans of edgy rock music with dirty production (in a good way, thanks to this being one of Aaron Sprinkle's first projects as producer), should really track a copy of this down. You can even grab it on AmazonMP3 (or order a used copy for a buck! It's well worth it). ~ John DiBiase

Grammatrain
Lonely House (1995)

Click here for a JFH Staff Review.

Our synopsis: "Lonely House is one of the more underrated mid-90's rock releases. Grunge rarely sounded this good." (Recommended by JFH's John DiBiase)
Perfect For: Faith, Struggles with Apathy
Song Highlights: "Believe," "Execution," "Need"

So, what are your thoughts on and experiences with the album Lonely House? Do you recommend it? If so, why?

Success, Love, and the Meaning of Life

I haven’t written a blog in a very long time; it’s been since about February I think (yep), and it seems that my blogs are getting more and more spaced out.  I talked about that the last time i wrote a blog, in fact. I've been thinking about it, and I think this is a good thing for your sake.  In fact I think that if I wrote a blog as often as I’d really like to, everyone would quit listening to me about anything.  Not because I’m super boring (I mean, I know I can get boring...but not super boring) or because I’m a rambler, but just because I sometimes think I understand something in life or something God’s teaching me or a situation I’m in and then I later realize that I really had no idea what was going on.  So maybe there’s a tiny, tiny little shred of wisdom in me that keeps me from writing blogs all the time.  Again, I think it’s for your sake mostly.  I’ve grown very comfortable with being just this side of crazy...are you ready for that? Are you ready to be living just this side of crazy like me?  I’m not too sure.

Anyway, on to better things.  I’ve been thinking a lot about those three things in the title line a lot this year.  What is success?  Is there such a thing as true, lasting love?  What exactly am I supposed to be doing with this life God’s given me, and I have I already screwed it up too much to be doing that?
I think that these are things we all think about from time to time; I’ve just been obsessing over them lately.  There is so much change in my life right now.  I’m in my upper-mid twenties, and I look around and see my friends from high school and college and the lives that they lead and I truly see how different my life is.  It’s such a huge difference.  When I was little, I knew that I’d be married by now, that I’d be working in some type of ministry, and that I’d probably have a little preggo-eggo wife hanging around.  I don’t have any of those things.  Of course, this is coming from the same guy that just knew that he’d also have a hoverboard, a flying car, and a little pet dinosaur-clone by now.    Those things didn’t really work out either.  I know what you’re thinking....”Oh man, he’s right....Where the heck is my hoverboard?!?” But alas, those things just aren’t happening right now.  I don’t have a job that pays me a lot of money, I don’t have a wife with a baby on the way, and surprise!  I’m moving back home to save money because I want to be moving to a new city soon.  How did I get so thrown off?
I’ll tell you how.  God intervened.  My plans just weren’t gonna do the trick, and I’m guessing He had something else in store.  Wavorly wasn’t my intention going into college, and our old band (freshmen15) started out as a joke between me and Dave.  How did I get to this place? How did my band get to this place?  Sitting on a ton of new material, slowing working our way through it and intentionally making it the best possible music that we can make it be...not pursuing labels just yet, watching our show numbers slowly dwindle down as the chorus of Praise and Adore starts to fade into the back of people’s minds and the rest of the album skips along merrily behind it.  Again, am I crazy?  Yes (again), I am crazy.  But I promise you, God is in this.  He’s working in my life in ways that I have never imagined.  I’ve seen crazy things this past year, things that (honestly) a southern baptist kid from Mississippi would’ve never thought he’d see.  I’ve met a real prophet on the street that spoke into my life like only someone that had been with me for the past year could have done and I’ve seen God promise me something in scripture and tell me to wait on it and watch as He worked it out.  He’s still working it out.  But despite my deepest fears, worries, and insecurities, He’s working it out!  These things...these questions...they still keep me up at night.  But God has shown Himself faithful to me and in lives all around me.  These worries, these fears...they also keep me up at night and try to ruin my days.  But God is still working.  Just because I might give into things that I don’t have to give in to doesn’t mean that He’s not working.  It just means that I’m not paying attention to Him.  Maybe that’s what that whole “seek first His kingdom” business is all about.   I’ve learned a lot about “identity” this year.  About who we really are in Christ, and honestly it makes me uncomfortable sometimes.  God loves us so much that we are “heirs with Jesus.” That might just be the hardest pill to swallow ever.  I have a really, really hard time wrapping my mind around that statement...around that Truth.  I’ve been living in error for a while, thinking that God was mad at me for my little screw-ups and the sins that I can’t seem to get passed.  He’s not.  He’s not mad at you either.  If you have Christ in your heart...a real relationship with God, He looks at you and He sees Jesus.  And nothing that you could ever do can add or take away from the Jesus He sees.  Nothing.  Is that some kind of get-out-of-jail-free card for you to do whatever you want?  Absolutely not.  That is the reason that you should want to know Him more.  How can He see you like that?  Ask Him.  I bet He’ll blow your mind and tell you.  Maybe not in the way you think He’ll tell you, but He will tell you.  For the longest time, I thought that if I ever had to face Jesus in a room, He would look at me, kinda frown and put His head down, shaking it from side to side saying “What a waste you’ve managed to make of all the blessings I’ve given you.  I just don’t know if I’m going to give you anymore.”  Have you ever wondered that, or thought of an encounter with God like that?  I will tell you this now, and you need to hear it: God will look at you in all of your weakness, all of your brokeness, all of your insecurity and doubt and you know what He’ll do?  He will smile at you.  And He’ll look at you and say, “I love you so much.  You have no idea how valuable you are to me, and you don’t have any idea how proud of you I am.”  That is the weight of God’s love.  That is the cross that we bear.  That is what Jesus meant when He said to take on His yoke, for it was easy and the burden was light.  Open your heart to that kind of love and see where it takes you.  And if it doesn’t make you want to take that love into the darkest places of your heart and the darkest places of this world, then you are missing it.  Keep asking, keep knocking, and keep seeking.  God will open that door to you, and He will never slam it shut in your face.  
C.S. Lewis wrote a book called the Screwtape Letters, and it’s about an elder demon giving a younger demon advice on how to tempt and sway humanity.  In that book, Lewis writes one of the most profound ideas I’ve ever read, and anytime I think about it it inspires me to keep going.  The elder demon is trying to describe the love of God to the younger demon (and of course they both detest the love of God) and he says something to the effect of “their God delights in them so much and wishes that they would step out in faith so much that He delights even in their stumbles.”  Now, that’s not exactly how it’s written because I don’t have a copy of the book sitting right here beside me, but do you get the point?  He delights in you.  Even when you’re trying to have faith and you seem like you’re just falling flat on your face, God loves the fact that you are stepping out in faith towards Him.  I’m telling you, it’s that much.  And that idea (to me) is the summation of success, love and the meaning of life. That is your identity as a child of God.  Don’t forget it, and don’t forget to show it.
Talk to you soon. 

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Scar

I have a scar.

It's ugly. It's long. It's on my right leg, and I will always have it. I've tried to hide it so many times... and I still try to.

The truth is, I'm afraid. I'm afraid that people will look at me and just see my scar. That somehow, the rest of who I am will be completely overshadowed by this massive imperfection that was engraved in my leg several years ago.

See, that's where my cancer was. The tumor had grown just under my right knee, so in addition to toxic chemotherapies, I had to have five inches of my leg bone replaced with a cadaver bone that was set in place with a metal plate and seven screws. As if I wasn't already bionic enough, I also got a knee replacement a few years later. Needless to say, I've got a pretty hefty scar to show for it!

Around my nurses and doctors, scars like that were totally "normal". However, as I began to get better and started to wear shorts for the first time in public after my surgery, I was greeted with a much different response. People would look at my face first and smile, no problem. Then, they'd glance down and... *gasp*... Their smile was instantly choked out by the horrified look on their face after seeing my scar.

At the time, this broke my heart. I remember coming home in tears after that happened far too many times in one day. "Why can't they just see ME??", I'd cry. "I'm not my scar!" Somehow, in those momentary glances, I felt judged. I felt looked over, summed up, and thrown into some completely unwanted category that I had no place being in. I was SO scared of what their decoded reactions meant, that I just started hiding my scar altogether. While I wanted to blame my insecurity on them, it was really my own pride that had me so tangled up and convinced that I couldn't show my imperfections.

Why is it that we can be so scared to show people the real us? Why can't we understand that we are ALL scarred, imperfect and broken? What good does it truly do to hide?

I finally started to realize that I was actually robbing others and myself of something when I hid my scar. Every time I would open up enough to share, God brought about some totally unexpected blessing that would empower me and bring inspiration to another. He began to work through my sharing, and would convict me of the times when I didn't, because I was robbing others of HIS glorious story.

The words in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 rang out to me in my weakest moment... "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

Wow. Leave it to God to say something crazy like "my power is made perfect in weakness"! What?? That's nuts... but it's true.

God has come through for me in some of the biggest ways, through my weakness. When I finally put aside my own pride to let His story be told, there is unbelievable beauty that pours from my deepest, most hated scars.

If so, how truly beautiful it is to be imperfect. For when I am weak, then I am strong.


We all have scars. One of mine just happens to be visible. See it for yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ss14pKx9to

We Recommend - Owl City, 'Ocean Eyes'

Musically, I'm a pretty easy guy to impress. There are multitudes of bands/artists that I enjoy listening to and there is a huge catalog of songs that I like. On the other hand, it's not easy to make that impression last long. Back in late May, both Chris Sligh and my friend Brandon posted Twitter updates about Owl City, and they caught my attention. One listen to the track "Hello Seattle" on Owl City's MySpace page and I was hooked, and that rare lasting impression had been made. For one, what I heard was unbelievably catchy. And another big plus? The lyrics are arguably the most clever of any artist out there today. They're deep, light-hearted, spiritual, and random, all at the same time. It's hard to categorize Owl City's musical sound (for those not familiar, Owl City is a solo music project with just one member, Adam Young). Some call it pop. Others prefer electronic/new age. But in all reality, it's a mash up of everything, which is what has made Adam Young's project so unique, enjoyable, and popular (Owl City's single "Fireflies is currently #2 on the overall iTunes song chart as I write this). A big upcoming winter tour with Deas Vail (who we're all quite familiar with) and synth-pop singer Lights is sure to keep Owl City's momentum going.  And with production and guest vocals on multiple tracks from Relient K's Matt Thiessen as an added bonus, Ocean Eyes is really an album you shouldn't pass up.
 ~ Logan Leasure

Owl City
Ocean Eyes (2009)

Click here for a JFH Staff Review.

Our synopsis: "One of the most profound records of the year, Ocean Eyes covers God, love, happiness, sadness, and everything else with some of the most unique sounds and lyrics imaginable. (Recommended by JfH's Logan Leasure)." (Recommended by JFH's Logan Leasure)
Perfect For: Thinking, reflection, fun
Song Highlights: "Fireflies," Vanilla Twilight"

So, what are your thoughts on and experiences with the album Ocean Eyes? Do you recommend it? If so, why?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Visit To God's 'Twilight Zone' by Bethany Dillon

So, I had one of those twilight zone God-moments the other day. You know, where you feel like He's speaking something to your heart, and then someone completely out of the loop says verbatim what you've been hearing the Lord say... yeah. Well, let me back up...

            I've been married for a little over a year and a half now, and it's safe to say that it's been my favorite little-over-a-year-and-a-half of my life. I love marriage! I love being married to my husband. I've never felt more humbled in my life since being married, too. You're probably thinking the obvious: I've been humbled by how difficult of a person I can be, which inevitably comes out in marriage, especially the first couple of years. That is very true! I was fully convinced that I was deep down a "pretty nice person"... and then... I got married. Shane is the sweetest, Godliest, most patient person alive; I don't know what I'd do if he wasn't! I've had to face my depravity, and it's been good. It's been awesome, actually. Not particularly fun, but awesome. Anyway, I'm getting sidetracked here: the other humbling thing about marriage between two people who love Jesus is that He works in your heart through your spouse a lot of the time. There have been multiple times in the past eighteen months where Shane will say something or pray something out loud and I think to myself... did I tell him I was struggling with that? Did he know I needed to be encouraged that way? It's been really sweet, and I'm so thankful for this new element to my daily, practical walk with Jesus.

            Back to my twilight zone moment. So, I'm a morning person. I love getting up in the mornings-- there's something about watching the sunrise, a cup of coffee, a quiet house, which is just healing to me. I love feeling ready and prepared for the day because of it. And as much of a contradiction this is, I've really been struggling with getting up in the mornings. There are probably a few reasons for that on any given day: we're on and off the road, different time zones, involved in our home church, normal busyness of life. Whatever the case may be, when my alarm goes off, almost every time I push snooze... and then snooze again... and then an hour goes by. Now, I'm not saying that sleeping in and recouping is bad at all! On the contrary, Shane and I have started declaring certain days off our Sabbath, and it's so needed! What I'm talking about here is... well... lack of discipline in my life. From the outside looking in, it may not seem that way, but I know my heart- and even more than knowing my heart, I know what He's asked of me. I can feel it in the specific conviction of the Holy Spirit in my heart when I'm not walking in what He's required.

            So last week, after feeling the effects for a while of not getting up in the morning to spend time in the Word and prayer, I just sat at our kitchen table, my to-do list in front of me, and heard Him speak to my heart.

            Intimacy.

            I'm called to have intimacy with Him. All other goals and purposes aside, that's truly what I was created for. And if I'm going to be honest, it's the only place my soul is really satisfied. I felt the weight of that deep inside of me-- which is what I mean by the specific conviction of the Holy Spirit; guilt is like a blanket spread out over everything, discouraging, planting seeds of doubt. The Holy Spirit is different... every time I feel convicted about something; I know exactly what it is He's calling out in me (Psalm 139:23-24 and Psalm 32:1-7 are good reference points for that). And this particular morning last week, I was feeling very convicted about my half-heartedness in pursuing His presence.     That morning ended, the day happened, and Shane and I were driving somewhere later that evening and he said to me, "You know what I was reading in Proverbs this morning? About how a foolish man loves sleep."

            ...Huh?

            Yeah, that's what it takes for the Lord to really get my attention! We ended up having a great conversation about the fine line between resting and loving sleep more than loving Him.

            I am so thankful that this season of my life has had such similar themes running through it... I got married, dove head-first into a lot of life and faith lessons, made a record of songs from this season called "Stop and Listen", and I feel like I keep going back to square one with it. I think that's okay, too. The songs on this new record aren't all per se about the need for my soul to wait on the Lord, but they all at least come out of a time of doing that, or else they wouldn't have been written! I've been so drawn to the story of two sisters in Luke 10 named Martha and Mary. I can't get enough of their story, actually. Martha was probably the oldest, since she's listed first, and definitely has first-born personality: she's project-oriented, on-task, and a hard worker. Her younger sister, Mary, was the exact opposite of her- the few glimpses of her throughout the New Testament paint a picture of someone who savored the moment. And honestly, I love both of them. I think Jesus did too. Martha can easily get a bad rap for her outburst in front of her houseguests, including Jesus, about her sister's lack of work ethic (Luke 10:40), but her heart really was to serve. Jesus' gentle rebuke to Martha in that story is a clue to His affection for her and desire to refine her in her giftedness. But He also shined a light on something I neglect too quickly in my walk with Him:

            "'Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.'" (Luke 10:41-42)

            The GOOD portion... I want it! I think that needs to be in huge, bold letters at the top of my to-do lists every day... CHOOSE THE GOOD PORTION. The ONE thing necessary: knowing Him.       That can look different for all of us- for those of you in Christ reading this, I'm confident that probably something specific is coming to mind right now. A step in that direction. An area He's been softening in you and calling you to. For me, it's getting up earlier. And for honesty's sake, I failed at it this morning. Maybe that's why I'm writing this blog about this very thing- I need to remind myself of what He's spoken and how worthy He is and how faithful He is when we walk in obedience. More than likely, I'm going to want to push snooze tomorrow morning when my alarm goes off, but I'm praying for His help... for grace and understanding to stop, wait, and listen at His feet.

 

Monday, October 12, 2009

Walking Disaster

Do you ever feel like a walking disaster? Like at times everything you touch falls apart? Like you would be the richest person alive if someone gave you a nickel every time something in your life went wrong?

I envision the scene from a movie where a guy is walking through a convenience store and clumsily knocks over a couple cans of tomatoes. In turn, this causes the whole display to topple over, somehow catching the corner of the isle rack just to the right, knocking down the entire row and causing a domino effect of every row falling one by one on top of each other. The scene ends panning out to the deer-in-the-headlights look on the guy's face, standing amidst the rubble of the collapsed racks and holding a can of tomatoes as he looks around at all the "happy" customers glaring straight at him.

A while back, I had one of these experiences. I was on my way to meet a friend to try out a sweet young adults group we had heard about. Little did I know I would never reach my friend or the event at all, but instead be stuck in a fender-bender (my fault) with 6 angry and threatening teenagers in the other car, crime busting police, potential criminal suspects and upset parents. The other vehicle soon drove off and I was left like the guy in the movie scene awkwardly holding the can of tomatoes.
 
You could say I felt like a tragic comedy.

I'm realizing though, that these "walking disaster" moments cause me to reevaluate my idea of what life's about.
What if life's not about things going right?
What if everything you've ever learned and know was stripped away, and it was just about one thing.
Simply knowing Christ. And that's it.

We've been given a life, which James 4:14 calls "a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes". The truth of this verse became very real to me during my time in the hospital with cancer. Watching my hopes, dreams and future flash before my eyes, I suddenly saw a much bigger picture. Did I really think this "mist" was about me?

It seems we've all gotten the message that things aren't the way they're supposed to be when they're going wrong… but I honestly don't know where that came from. Christ suffered. In fact, nothing in His life seemed to go at all "right". Even from the beginning, He was born in a crowded barn… I mean, come on. That's not even close to being "right"! (especially for the Son of God!)

We are called Christians because we are supposed to follow the example of Christ. If this is so, then whoever led us to believe things aren't the way they're supposed to be when they do go "wrong"?? 1 Peter 4:12 also says, "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you." This verse kind of makes me laugh, cause I can feel a twinge of sarcasm in Peter's words. I can see him almost implying us being in a tizzy, upset and in disbelief over whatever "wrong" situation is happening to us as we throw up our hands asking how this could happen to US! Why, hello reality check…

Remember, even if just for a moment, that we're not invincible. If we all agree on this fact, then we should also come to grips with the fact that this life on earth is all we have to know Christ. Once our "mist" is over, that's it. Either we know Him, or we don't. Every single thing that happens in our life is a chance to know Him further. Our eternity is based on that.

I continue to get my "walking disaster", "deer-in-the-headlights" reality checks, (sometimes more frequently then I would like!) but nonetheless, they keep things in perspective.

The next time things seem to go terribly wrong or not as expected… maybe we can just try to remember: Life's not about things going right. It's about knowing Christ through whatever comes our way.

~Paige

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Paige Armstrong’s first album with Whiplash Records, "Wake Up," hit stores on Oct. 6. and is available now!

 

Monday, October 05, 2009

What do you want to do with your life?

Has anyone ever asked you the question, “What do you want to do with your life?” If so, chances are you:  A. Confidently explained your mapped out future plans.  B. Said you had some ideas, but still were figuring out the details. Or,  C. FREAKKEDD OUTT, and ran. Which one sounds the most probable?

 

When it comes to considering what we want to do with our lives, unfortunately at times that thought can seem more scary and overwhelming than exciting. While that is a big decision, perhaps it would be a little more inviting if we had a better idea of how to go about it.

 

My girlfriend Melody and I were out a while back, sipping Starbucks and causally wandering about in the warm evening weather outside. Somehow, through our thread of many different conversations, we got talking about the mysterious topic of “purpose”. That word, purpose, has been a huge growing passion in my heart anyway, so we were just talking about various aspects of it... what it means to different people and how we are to live it out.

 

In our conversation, she said something that really struck a chord with me - that I haven’t been able to shake since. She shared this idea that she heard about “not thinking of what you want to do with your life in terms of asking yourself what you love... but instead, what you hate”. In other words, what is it that appalls, hurts, and breaks you in the world? For her, it's human trafficking and slavery. I thought about it seriously myself, and decided for me, it's the thought of people wasting their lives.

 

After battling bone cancer when I was 11 years old, I came face to face with the reality of how truly precious our lives are. Only able to lie in a hospital bed after numerous chemotherapies and extensive leg surgeries, I began to see life quite differently than I ever had before. What captured my attention the most, was seeing so many kids who were extremely sick and daily fighting for their lives, while some of my other perfectly healthy friends were barely living theirs… just blowing their days because they didn’t know how much their lives were worth.

This is what breaks my heart the most.

 

So in turn, taking these things we hate and see as complete injustices, we find however we can to live our life in a way that will impact and change that injustice or situation. I LOVE this way of looking at things!

 

Our purpose is simple. We're all called to love God and others. Period. But have you found that defining what that looks like specifically in your life is where it gets a bit more complicated? That’s why this perspective is great. It can be so overwhelming when someone asks, “What do you love? What do you want to do?” Uhhhh... welll.... what if I love a LOT of things?? What if there’s a lot of things I COULD do? Now what??

Stop for a second and seriously consider this. What do you HATE?? I mean what truly, utterly, appalls you?

 

Got it?

 

Alright... here’s the cool part. Now flip it around. What can you do to solve it? Change it? Abolish it?

 

Any things coming to mind?

 

See the world has given us this twisted idea that “what we do with our lives” should be practical, comfortable, and mediocre. That way it’s “safe” and no one gets hurt.

Ha… CLEARLY.

This lack of living is creating a walking dead.

 

Ultimately, here it is: I HATE the thought of people wasting their lives. So I’m going for it. I am going to do anything I possibly can with my life to show people why they should live theirs. I feel like my PURPOSE, is to help other people find theirs. Because of everything that I’ve been through, this is what I want to do.

 

Whether you believe it or not... God has an AMAZING, passionate and fulfilling purpose for your life. It’s your choice to take it or leave it.

For now... the questions stands. What do you hate?

It just might be worth giving your life to.

~Paige

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Paige Armstrong’s first album with Whiplash Records, "Wake Up," will be available on Oct. 6.

 

 


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