Thursday, December 26, 2013

Calling & Purpose

Simple Thing: Calling & Purpose

This may not seem so simple. In fact it may seem quite the opposite. How can we ever know our purpose here on earth?

Good news: Jesus told us our purpose. Mark 5 describes a man who had been possessed by a legion of demons. Jesus cast the demons into the pigs which freed the man of his former possessed life. The man was more than grateful. He wanted to follow Jesus but Jesus' command to him was simple: Go and tell what mercy the Lord has shown you.

That is still our calling today.

Too often in the church the words "calling" and "purpose" are used only for those going into vocational ministry. However, being called to do something is not nearly that limited.

Recently I went to see an old family friend at his place of work: a barber shop. His haircuts are always excellent, and the conversations are always a joy.

In discussing school and careers he told me he felt being a barber was a calling for him. He has had the opportunity to not just cut hair, but also to be an ear for people who just need to talk. To him, cutting hair is a ministry to people.

See, you don't have to be Billy Graham or Pope Francis to make a difference or impact for God. Simply spread the Gospel right where you are.

"Rejoice always!
Pray constantly.
Give thanks in everything,
for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
l Thessalonians 5:16-18 (HCSB)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Blog on blogging from a blogger

Why hello, blog! It's been awhile.

Blogs are funny things. They are open to anyone with access to the internet. People's beautifully written poetry, thoughts, and ideas can be recorded in their blog. Similarly, people's unorganized, grammatically flawed, and unedited thoughts and whatever else may end up on a blog. 

There are so many blogs.

I don't have a figure, but if you pick a phrase and then add "" to it, you are likely to come up with a blog. I just did twice and got a blog both times.

Some blogs are private. Some are just for fun. And some blogs get really big! Take the Pioneer Woman for example. It went from a food blog to a food network show.   

I'll be honest, I don't have a great takeaway from this post, but I have been scrolling through my News Feed on Facebook and seen blog after blog after blog being posted from a variety of blogs that somehow got big (like Pioneer Woman). Next time you're on Facebook, look at how many blogs you see. Are there trends in the topic?

I wonder if blogs are changing the way we learn news, what is hip and popular, and the things important to our generation and culture. What do you think?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

World Communion Sunday

"World Communion Sunday offers congregations a distinctive opportunity to experience Holy Communion in the context of the global community of faith. The first Sunday of October has become a time when Christians in every culture break bread and pour the cup to remember and affirm Christ as the Head of the Church. On that day, they remember that they are part of the whole body of believers." 1

Many times it feels like the different denominations are so divided. For instance, when you go to list your religion many places have Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, etc as all different religions.  However, there are moments of unity.

On World Communion Sunday, as said above, we remember that we are one body of Christ.  Today at my church I paid more attention to the communion liturgy than normal. One section struck me as beautiful for the first time.

"Pour out your Holy Spirit on us gathered here,
and on these gifts of bread and wine.
Make them be for us the body and blood of Christ,
that we may be for the world the body of Christ,
redeemed by his blood."
- United Methodist Hymnal, page 14

Redeemed by his blood
We have been saved, bought, redeemed by His death and the blood that He shed. What response can we have to that? What can we do? Thankfulness is natural, but how can we demonstrate our appreciation?

That we may be for the world the body of Christ
Live like He did. Do this in order to show others how amazing He is that others might know Christ personally as well.

Make them be for us the body and blood of Christ
And so, we all commune together to share in remembering this glorious event.

So, brothers and sisters, remember that we are all one body. Go out into the world and be the body of Christ because you have been redeemed!

Happy World Communion Sunday!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Simple thing: faith.

Sarah laughed.
Zechariah doubted and become temporarily mute.

It seems so hard to have faith. Doubt is a much easier route, such as with Sarah and Zechariah. Surely it's not simple. There's so many things to consider! Namely, it's hard to put your faith in something you can't see. In fact, the idea is crazy, right?

Think about a traffic light for a moment. Imagine you're in the protected left lane and it turns green. How do you know those cars coming towards you are going to stop? How do you know their light is actually red? Faith. A whole lot of faith.

Faith in God is kind of the same way. Sometimes it seems dangerous, but we know from experience it works. My brother is going to be getting his driver's license soon. As a driver rather than a passenger, he doesn't have much experience to trust the system. Instead, he has to trust his teachers - our mom and dad - who do have experience. Again, our faith in God is like this.

Ultimately, you must decide to have faith on your own, but listen to those you trust. Watch their lives. What makes them different? Often, it is faith. Let your peers and mentors be a beacon to you.

Let me add, this is not faith in some distant, removed deity. It's a faith in a God who came to us as one us, Emmanuel. He understands you as your Creator and as a human. He died and broke the curse of death by rising again. He did it for you. This is the God I put my faith in. I hope you will too.

Thursday, September 19, 2013


Simple thing: trust.

"Aren't two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father's consent. But even the hairs of your head have all been counted. So don't be afraid therefore; you are worth more than many sparrows."
- Matthew 10:29-31

"Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I stand up;
You understand my thoughts from far away.
You observe my travels and my rest;
You are aware of all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue,
You know all about it, Lord.
You have encircled me;
You have placed Your hand on me."

- Psalm 139:1-5

God knows us completely. He knows even the details about us that we wish he didn't. Still, he loved us enough to die and still loves us to this day. Psalm 139 continues on to say, "This extraordinary knowledge is beyond me. It is lofty; I am unable to reach it."

Rest in this "extraordinary knowledge" and trust that if he knows you this completely, he is worthy of your daily trust. For if he is eye is on the smallest sparrow, don't you think he watches over you? Rest in his peace and trust in Him each new day.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Good News

Simple things: good news.

It's hard to keep it a secret, isn't it? When something really good happens you want to tell all your friends. Matthew 9: 27-31 tells the story of Jesus healing two blind men. He sternly warns them, "Be sure that no one finds out!" What do they do? They go out and "spread the news about Him throughout the whole area." I know Jesus told them not to, but I can hardly blame them! This happens repeatedly in the gospels. 

Sometimes a preceding factor of good news is obedience. 2 Kings 5: 1-19 describes the commander's of Israel's army being healed of a skin disease. It wasn't quite as straightforward as you might think, though. Elisha the prophet told him to "go wash seven times in the Jordan and your flesh will be restored and you will be clean." Oh, but Naaman, this commander, got angry. Why dip in the Jordan? Why not another river? Why does he have to do this at all? Couldn't Elisha heal him by the wave of a hand? In the end, he did as he was told and was grateful.  He tried and tried to give Elisha a monetary gift for his healing which brought such good news to Naaman. However, Elisha would not accept them. Still, Naaman's joy and thankfulness at this good news is clear. He even put his faith in the God of Israel alone.

So why did Elisha have him wash in the Jordan 7 times? Why does that even matter? Doesn't that sound a little superstitious? Maybe it is more than the act itself. Rather, asking him to wash 7 times in Jordan tested his obedience to a prophet of God, and further, to God himself. 

Good news is a wonderful thing and hard thing to keep a secret. Fortunately, we don't have to keep the Gospel a secret! Often, good news first requires faith and obedience. Remember today that the best news our world has ever received is what Jesus did for us. Even when you can't find any other good news in your life, know that the gospel of Jesus Christ, and more importantly the person of Jesus Christ, is with you always.  Let that good news permeate your life through obedience so that all the world may know what Jesus did for us.

Note: All scriptures from Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB).

Sunday, March 31, 2013


For those of you who didn't see my post yesterday, go read that and come back to this.

Emptiness. My lord is dead. Suddenly the women disciples of Jesus ran into the room they were staying. "The body of Jesus is gone!" Peter was outrun by John, but entered the tomb first. The clothes were folded and the body gone. Grave robbers.

Again, I am with Peter here. A glimmer of hope and yet this could be bad too. What if those who stole the body want to harm us as well? Safety is the next logical option.

I imagine Peter and the disciples were restless and confused waiting in that dark room. Wondering what to do next. Wondering if each set of footsteps outside may try to knock down the locked door and arrest them. Watching as the candles slowly burned ou-

Suddenly JESUS! He appeared out of thin air. I don't know what they did, but I would have fallen completely over. The man who I watched die is alive! Is this real? Will he speak to me after all I have done? After denying him? And yet he says to me, "Peace be with you." And so I am at peace.

He rose from the grave so that you can too. Nothing can hold you back with Jesus on your side. Not even death on a cross.

Happy Resurrection Sunday!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Peter and the Crucifixion

In light of Holy Week I have been reflecting on the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Seeing as Easter is not until tomorrow, let us focus on the crucifixion. At a Maundy Thursday service I listen to the story being read from the gospel of Matthew. He went from celebrating Passover with his disciples to dying a humiliating, torturous, painful death on a sinner's cross.

Who would I have been in that story? Maybe one of the Jews screaming for crucifixion for the "liar". Maybe one of the women mourning for Jesus. Honestly though, I think I would have been Peter. Afraid, confused, and terrified.

My instinct would have been the same as his when the guards came to take Jesus away. "What do I do now? They are about to take my Lord! I must defend him." Then pull out my weapon and start swinging. The fact that he only got the ear of the slave is a good indication of his dazed state due to pure confusion. I would have been just as confused. I would have wanted to go down swinging.

After that? Surely, I would think, I would never deny my Lord. But when this man who healed the sick, cast out demons, and calmed the seas is now on a cross? Suddenly nothing makes sense. I am terrified. Have I been lied to for three years? Would they kill me because I am his disciple? I think I would have lied too. And in turn, when I heard the rooster, I would have wept.

I get Peter. We are on the same page. Confusion, desperation, and pure terror. What now? What next? My Savior is dead.

Friday, March 15, 2013

You only live once

There are two things you need to know about "YOLO"
1) It means "You Only Live Once"
2) It is the most overused... thing... acronym... whatever.

I am currently on a school trip with a bunch of other nerds from my school.  This trip entailed a 5 hour drive. You stick 7 college kids in a van for 5 hours and things get interesting. In this case: Everything anyone says is followed by yolo. "Dude that's yolo-ing there!" [Yeah, apparently it's a verb now] "Nah... that's not yolo. That's just dumb."

So why do I bring this up? To talk about how goofy my friends are? Not really.

Here lately I've been contemplating the long held idea to live life to the fullest and enjoy it.  For some, they say drink, smoke, sleep around. If that's what you enjoy, do it. I am not endorsing this; however, let's dig into this a little.

Put aside morals and ethics for one moment.  One thing people of such a mindset do great is partaking in things they enjoy.  They do what they believe will allow them to live a full life.

So, why do many of us as Christians live so safely? Why take the easy way out? Jesus himself said in John 10:10, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly."

Wake up, guys! You got God on your side! Enjoy your life! Am I saying be crazy and party? Absolutely not. But enjoy the few years on earth God has given you! Give your best to God in everything you do and do it with  joy.  Be happy. Smile. Take a chance or two. And I can't believing I'm saying it.... but yolo. You only live once with your few years God has given you. Enjoy them!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Hey You

Hey you -
You with the hurt behind that beautiful smile. God loves you so much.

Hey you -
You with the addiction you try to hide - or even hide behind. God loves you like crazy.

Hey you -
You with the unique personality hiding behind the boxes you put yourself in. God loves YOU.

Hey you -
You with the belief that your sin is too much for God. God loves you too.

Hey you -
You with the fear of admitting your faith for fear of what others might say. God still loves you.

Hey you -
God loves you.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A strange look on beauty

I've always had a problem with people posing nude or close to it, but maybe that's the way to go.

Now that I have your attention...

An article from Elle about Taylor Swift (  popped up on my newsfeed on facebook. I clicked on it and started browsing. The clothes she was wearing were literally up to $4,000. For an OUTFIT. I'm all for buying quality clothing, but that is straight up crazy.

On top of that, do you know how much photo editing goes into making celebrities look like Ken and Barbie instead of themselves? A lot. In case you haven't seen this site has some examples. These are some of the less extreme examples I have seen. The edited picture is first and the original second.

So let's look at where we are:
1) Wear clothes that cost enough to feed a small town.
2) Edit the imperfections out of the photos.

My solution? Just pose nude! No fancy clothes required. Okay, not really. Please, keep your clothes on.

My point? You don't need fancy clothes, pounds of make-up, and an edited version of yourself to be beautiful. I mean look back at those pictures. Those people are beautiful before the edits. Just because you are not perfect, does not mean you are not beautiful. None of us are perfect!

So, go be yourself. (And yes, please, be yourself with your clothes on.)

Thursday, February 7, 2013


In addition to math, psychology, and greek, I am learning a lot this semester.

Such as...

1) Put a little faith in people, but learn from the results.
2) Don't think less of someone because they think differently than I do. I may find I am the lesser person because of that assumption.
3) I am capable of more than I know.
4) #3 is only true because of Jesus Christ.
5) Hard work pays off.
6) Life is full of decisions.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sundays at Home

I love Sunday afternoons on the rare occasion that I am home with my family.  School work and life still lurk on the outside, but here I am. Who would have thought I would find retreat and shelter right at home? I guess that's what college does.

Every Sunday morning my family gets up, goes to Sunday school, church, and then to lunch. Afterwards, we go home and relax. Take a nap. Play some games on our electronics. Blog. Soak in the message we just heard from the preacher.

What a wonderful time of peace. It's good to be home.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

From "Hooked on Phonics" to Editor in Chief

I was almost held back from Kindergarten because I couldn't read. However, my teachers and parents took a leap of faith and put me in first grade. To solidify and aid this decision my mother began me on the bane of my 6 year old existence: Hooked on Phonics.

I did the work under protest but slowly learned to read. I'm sure my mother can tell you more stories than I can, but it was a struggle. I did in fact survived the torture and became a good little student. However, my hatred for reading and writing stayed elevated.

Slowly, though, things began to change. I was first introduced to the wonderful world of Harry Potter in middle school and fell in love with the series. Then, I began to read my Bible.  I would tell people the only things I will read are Harry Potter, the Bible, and whatever I have to read for school.

Once J. K. Rowling finished the series I was completely inspired. I began to write a magical book of my own. Now, don't ask me to see it. It was horrible, but it was a start. However, my grades in writing at high school were still average or below average compared to my peers so I decided that I clearly was not a good writer.

Eventually college rolled around and I cringed a little inside as I walked into class. If I was a bad writer in high school, college is going to kill me. I was pleasantly surprised.  Writing in college still requires proper grammar and organization, but it has so much more freedom.  In addition, I had found a teacher who told me I was a good writer.  This blew my mind and I did not believe him.

Soon I became involved with the newspaper, but not really by my will.  My friend and the Editor in Chief of the paper at the time convinced me to write an article about science and faith. Then, he kept asking me to write more! And then to become and editor! And become Editor in Chief. My reaction? No way. I just learned a few months ago that I can write well and now you want me to edit and be in charge? No.

However, through prayer and contemplation I have accepted the position of Editor in Chief of the Hilltop News. I know I have a lot more to learn, and I am so excited to begin this yearlong journey tomorrow. I can't wait to see what happens.

This is what I want you to understand: there is also more to you than you think. Don't underestimated yourself.  Have faith in yourself.  Listen to those smarter than you. You may not know what you are capable of. I sure didn't.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

New Apologetics blog

Hello blog readers!

I have a new blog for my studies in apologetics. I will keep this one as my personal blog, but I noticed my blog named for "Simple things" has become a little cluttered.

Click here to see my new blog!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Dependently Independent

I hate being dependent. I hate needing help.  You can ask my family and friends how many times I turn down help because, "No, really. I got this. I'm fine."  So when God says, "You can't do this alone. You will fail on your own. Rely on me." my first reaction is "I got a plan. Thanks, though."

Why would I willingly give up my freedom. I am an American! I can make my own choices! Yes, that's true. However, in depending on God I experience a new kind of freedom.  You see, I still make my own choices, but when I relying on God I prayerfully consider circumstances before choices.  I am choosing to give up what I want in order to do what He wants.

I don't always do this, though. Sometimes I do what I want instead.  Yeah... that never works out real well.  However, He is always there with forgiveness and love to take me back and put me back on the right path.  Going back is painful, but it's freeing.

So here's to being Dependently Independent!  With my independence and free will I choose to be dependent on God.  Then, in Him, I experience true freedom.  Sometimes it doesn't feel like it, no.  But I am free in Him.  I am free to be who he created me to be.

In Christ I am a new creation. The old is has gone; behold, the new has come!
2 Corinthians 5:17

I hope you'll join me.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Gadgets and girlfriends

I love gadgets.

I got a nice little QWERTY keyboard phone, iPod touch, and some others.  Gadgets are fun and useful little things. However, how many times have you heard your parents say, or if you are a parent how many times have you said this, "No cell phones at the dinner table!".

I sure have. A lot. Like I said, I like my gadgets.

Today, though, I encountered for the first time just what these little things do to relationships.

I was out to lunch today enjoying a bottomless soup, salad, and bread stick meal when a young, high school couple sat at the booth next to me. That, however, was not the strange part of my observations.

They sat down, ordered their food, and pulled out their cell phones. Once the boy put down his and looked around, almost as if wondering if they would talk at all.  Soon after, though, he pulled his back out again.  Occasionally one would share a picture they found with the other, but that was the extent of their conversation.

When the main course arrived, the conversation picked up a bit, but only, it seemed, to fill space. And believe it or not, the conversation starter was the guy.  The girl did not seem very interested in talking to him.

How strange!  They seem to be on a date, but would much rather spend their time with the virtual world than with each other.

I don't get it at all. As much as I love my little gadgets, when I'm out with people I make an effort to keep the phone to a minimum, or at least multitask. (Though I'm sure my friends and family can provide you with instances where I have failed at that.)

So, be conscious of your phone usage. I'm not here to say that you should quit using them all together. No way.  Just remember, when you're spending time with someone you care about, whether boyfriend, family member, or just a friend, show them you care! Give them your attention.  It'll be better for both of you.   Who knows, you may even learn something.

Thursday, January 3, 2013


Warning: a little graphic.

Scubula: a greek word often translated as "loss". For example, Paul said, "But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ" in Philippians 3:7.

More accurately, this word is translated rubbish.

Even more accurately, this word means the liquid flowing inside your intestines. Poop. Crap. I'll let you fill in the other synonyms from there. 
Paul is saying whatever he considered important before Christ, he now considers as crap. Literally. That's in the Bible, ladies and gentlemen.

Paul is saying this is true of his former life as a Pharisee. It was a life perceived to be holy, but any life apart from Christ is a sinful life. All lives prior to Christ are defined by sin. Even now as Christians, we fall prey to sin daily. Even though we know this, it's still easy to fall into a self-righteous mindset. "Well, sure, I yell at people in traffic, but I'm not the only one. And besides it could be worse. At least I don't drink and drive."

However, all sin is a remnant of that former life of scubula. All my sin is scubula. Get a picture of that in your head.  You're covered in crap. You're nasty. You've been rolling in it. Picture Jean Veljean from Les Miserables when he is rescuing Marius.

Suddenly someone completely clean comes and takes that on Himself leaving you clean.  All you have to do is be willing for Him to take it. Wow.

I am dirty. My sin coats me.  However, Jesus is pure.  He is holy.  He is clean. Therefore, in Him I am clean. My faith He has counted as righteousness. Good Lord, how undeserving am I.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


In 2013 I'm going to lose weight and save more!!

Yeah, right.
It's probably going to be like every other year where I'm gonna save weight and lose more.

I think that communicates my feelings towards new years resolutions.

However, at the beginning of this new year I have been thinking on the goals I have for myself everyday and taking this day of all to reflect on them and share some with you.  I repeat these are daily goals, not resolutions.

In 2013 and every day, I want to love those around me. I want God to continue to teach me his ways.  When I find love hurts, I want to remember that there is one who loved me so much it hurt and he bled and died.  I want to remember that when all else fails, He is always here.  He is always with me.  I want to praise Him for that and his undying love.

Happy New Years, my friends.