Different Levels of Sin

In our minds, we have different layers of the bad things we do. A white lie or thinking something bad about someone we might consider minor to the point where it doesn’t even require an apology. The next step up is a small trespass and a flick on the head with evil intent. We may not even think that that needs forgiveness. And we keep building these stories of sin. Perhaps the worst sin you can think of is murdering multiple people and the very least of sins is an eye roll at a person of authority. This goes hand in hand with the idea that the good person whom you have only seen sin once has a better chance with God than the person who got arrested for drunk driving.

From a human perspective, it makes sense. If those twenty dollars you nipped weren’t missed, than it isn’t all that serious. But if you took another’s life, it affected fellow humans and is thought to be a graver sin.

This is not the case at all. According to Romans 3:23, ‘…all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.’ In our sin, we are all made equal. The serial killer is no better or worse than the little girl saying her friend is stupid. All transgressions make God sad and all who believe will be welcomed back with a party and sounds of great rejoicing.

The very same price was paid for everyone – Jesus’s blood. Even if only one single sin had been committed in the entire history of the world, he would die for it. If he had to die a thousand times in agony to pay for a single soul, he would. By degrading the sin, you degrade the price paid for it.

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Is God Dead?

Martin Luther, a great Christian reformer, had been in a black depression for three days. On the third day, his wife came down the stairs wearing mourning clothes with a somber expression on her face. “Who is dead?” Martin asked. “God,” she replied. Luther rebuked her, saying, “What do you mean, God is dead? God cannot die!” “Well,” she replied, “The way you’ve been acting I was sure he had!”

We all act a little lazy sometimes. Perhaps it’s Saturday morning and you’ve been working your butt off all week and you feel like doing absolutely nothing but watching Sherlock. Maybe it’s unwillingness to get out of bed or leave the comfort of your electronic device. Stuck in a book and not wanting to leave it for more than a few seconds except to flail your arms around with how good it is. We know that we have things to do or could be being very productive and helpful but we just don’t feel like it.

Downtime is necessary. Without it, the world would be filled with tired, angry, bothered, and cranky people. But when does much-needed rest end and lethargy begin? Where is the line?

As you may have noticed from my “Sleep” post, I have great difficulty forcing myself out of bed. Very rarely is the reason why I can’t get up physical lack of sleep. 99.9% of the time it is my deficiency of motivation. My sinful brain will pull out every excuse known to mankind to resist entering the world of the living. “Mom doesn’t really need you to help get your sisters breakfast, does she? School isn’t that important, is it? A few more minutes can’t hurt, right?” And while I am making these explanations on why I shouldn’t start moving, I know perfectly well who I am making these defenses to: God. I am trying to justify my actions in my head.

Can you imagine if God did that? If when we prayed, God would yawn and ignore you? When you worshipped him, he would walk sleepily past you and not even acknowledge your praises? One of my favorite stories from the Old Testament is in 1 Kings 18. Elijah gathers the prophets of Baal together and challenges them, saying, ‘Get two bulls for us. Let Baal’s prophets choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by fire—he is God.’ The prophets of Baal agreed to this, and they called in vain to their “god”. Elijah mocked them during this, saying that perhaps Baal was sleeping, or had gone to the toilet.

Can you imagine believing in a God like that?

God is not dead. He never rests, and is always watching you (in the nice way, not the creepy stalker version). Who am I to lie around when I could be serving the Lord my God? So I pray that for the rest of this week God will give me the strength to arise when he calls for me and rest only when my work is done.

Africa

About a month ago there was a possibility that I might be able to go to Africa in the summer of 2014 on a mission trip. Because of my age and the expense, I was asked to write a letter on why I should have such an opportunity. I believe that others may benefit from what I wrote then, so here it is said in a more articulate way.

I want to find out what I am supposed to do. Has God set me apart as a missionary or to stay at home? I do not know. I have prayed long about this and feel an urge to go and tell people I’ve never seen before of an entirely different culture about Jesus. I have read so much about missionaries and the amazing faith they have in God and I long to have an experience of my own.

If you are worried about how much I will be able to do as a minor, I assure you that I am not afraid of hard work. If energy and physical strength is what they require, I am willing to give it. It will also be a good experience for me. I live in a first world country and have never wanted for anything and I think it will be good for me to see that there are people living very tough lives. It will make me thankful for the small tasks I have at home and for the luxuries I take for granted.

The opportunity to serve others excites me. Even if God has not planned for me to be a missionary, I will serve the people of my own community to the best of my ability.

I am not without knowledge that there will be some things to get used to there in Africa, and that the amount of money going into this trip is so great is rubs against my practical side.

I will continue to pray and eagerly await whatever decision you may make.

The morning after writing the letter my mom told me I was allowed to go. I still pray fervently about the trip and all who may go on it. I thank God for the opportunities given to me, and I pray that anyone who has ever wanted to tell others outside of their race, culture, language, country, continent, whatever it may be, that they will find a way to go.

Words

As an author, I have a great respect and love for words. The way they sound, all the different meanings and uses, how you can put them together, the origins and pronunciations, everything. You will never meet an author who hates words. They are tools of beauty and wonder, the building blocks of the universe – literally! God created everything that has ever existed and ever will exist through words. We clearly see in the story of the Tower of Babel that with miscommunication comes the end of progress. Nothing happens when we can’t understand each other. Words.

Yet according to evolution, words happened by accident. “Well, fish began making noises and then when they evolved into more sentient beings they formed words and…” What? You’re telling me that the same beings who can’t even remember what they had for breakfast this morning created billions upon billions of words in different languages with different meanings and different pronunciation? Not only that, we strung them into sentences that vary in length and complexity that have rules and grammar? Just to add another impossible factor into this, we also made unity and paragraphs and invented stories full of love and life and beauty and wonder that not even the authors themselves could ever fully understand? That we, all alone, created things that open the heavens and shake the ground and stop wars and grow peace and change hearts? Humans did that?

Rubbish. Complete rubbish. Can you try, for just a second, to imagine a world without words? Reading, writing, speaking, all gone. You wouldn’t even be able to think in words. There would be no describing things. Even using pictures for communication wouldn’t work out as well because there would be nothing to interpret the message properly with. The creativity and love and strength of mind it would require to create words cannot even begin to be contemplated by our feeble minds.

Only a beautiful God could have created such beautiful tools.

You Know You’re a Homeschooler When…

The fairy tales your parents told you were altered slightly to include twelve years of being friends together and six of dating before they even started thinking about marriage.

You have pulled out the “homeschool jokes” to make people feel less awkward.

People have told your mom that she has her hands full.

You’re not allowed to talk about Harry Potter with other families.

Pop culture is when a Christian artist releases a new song.

Playing with swords and pretending you’re elves is an everyday thing.

The kitchen doubles as a classroom.

Going to the grocery store counts as a field trip.

You get pitied during the summer when you don’t get it off but turn around and laugh at them in the winter when you have three weeks off for Christmas and can go on vacation in the middle of March.

You always go to amusement parks on Tuesday mornings.

The library is your favorite place during the summer.

You knew Latin by the time you were eight.

Being sick makes absolutely no difference to how much school you have to do.

Your school day is less than five hours long.

“Are they all yours?” is a very common question.

Snow days? Please.

You’ve seen your teacher pregnant.

School is cancelled when Mom doesn’t feel well.

Gluten-free is the way to go.

You read adult-level books before you lost all your baby teeth.

You know the Greek alphabet.

Musicals are the best form of entertainment.

Your parents get disappointed when babysitters actually get social lives.

Getting cereal from the store is a treat.

 

Got any of your own to add?

 

*Thanks to blimeycow for the inspiration!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kes6KVbbeyo

Weekly Writing Challenge: 1,000 Words

Weekly Writing Challenge: 1,000 Words.

“‘Mummy, can we go to the park now?’ I begged. I pointed at my new shoes. “I’m all ready!”

‘Yes, just let me get my coat.’ She laughed. ‘You surely are eager today!’

It seemed to take all eternity for Mom to get her sweater on, do her hair, grab the car keys, redo her makeup, and apparently also find the cure for cancer judging by how long she spent in her room. She finally emerged and I buckled myself into the van.

When we got to the park, nobody else was there. It was cold and my fingers near froze onto the swing set chains, but it was still fun. It felt weird, though, like the world was waiting for something to happen. I jumped off the swing and then ran up the slide, going around the jungle gym. It took me  a while to notice that my mother was missing.

‘Mummy?’ I yelled uncertainly. ‘Mummy?” I sprang off the ladder. ‘MUMMY?’

‘Ella!’ There is my mother, getting a drink from the fountain. ‘What’s the matter?’

‘I thought you had gone!’ I sprinted into her arms.

‘I would never leave you willingly.’ She guided me over to the merry-go-round and sat for a few minutes.

A car pulled up in the parking lot. It was really big. A man stepped out and looked carefully at my mother.

Her grip tightened on my arm and she turned me to face her. ‘Ella, I need you to listen very closely now, do you understand?’

I nod, frightened by her intensity. She had never looked at me like that before.

‘Ella, I want you to stay right here. Don’t move a muscle. I need to talk with this gentleman, and I will be back, but you must promise me that you won’t move.’ She stares into my eyes. ‘Do you promise?’

I nod again, my eyes large.

Mummy sucked in a big breath. ‘Good.’ She got up woodenly from the merry-go-round and walked towards him. I could see their mouths moving, but couldn’t hear what they were saying. Then the man held out a hand. Mummy took it and then went with him on the path around the frozen lake until I could not see them.

My legs itched to hop off the carousel that exact second and see where they went, but I remembered Mummy’s words and stayed put. Ten minutes passed, and then thirty minutes, and then an hour, and she still had not returned.”

I paused my narrative to see the effect my story was having on the official.

“I have not seen my mother in fourteen years,” I finished. “She was another victim of the Man.”

 

*Author’s note: Did I kind of go off topic and not go along with what the picture showed? Yes. But I had fun writing this and I hope you enjoyed reading it.

Entitlement

For the past couple of days I have been undergoing the absolute blessing of allergies. My throat is sore, my nose is stuffy, my stomach can’t take many solids, and overall I just feel like crud. During a moment in the middle of the night when I could not sleep due to the fact I couldn’t breathe, I had the audacity to think, “I shouldn’t be sick. I eat healthily and exercise – I shouldn’t have to undergo this.”

I’ve had a reality check since then, but that started the gears in my mind, particularly about Obama phones.

Since when is it part of your right as an American to have a phone? When did it happen that you would be pitied on if you didn’t own a communications device? Teenagers nowadays tend to expect and even feel entitled to having a phone. Practically, yes, it is good to have a phone if you’re driving or babysitting, but a right? A right to have a phone that we both know will, on average, not be used for much more than Angry Birds?

What happened where we now believe that we are deserving of all the things on this planet? “I worked so hard today, I deserve a nap.” “I ate healthily for eight weeks, I deserve this piece of cake.” Sometimes we don’t even go on to think that we deserve it, we believe that we should just naturally get things. “I am entitled to being healthy.” “I am entitled to a bed and a roof over my head.” “It is my right to have this.”

You want to know what we really deserve?

Death. Fire. Pain. Every negative emotion known to mankind for eternity.

A far cry from phones.

Everything that you currently have is a gift. Clothes, money, job, house, children, whatever. It all was given to you. It doesn’t matter if you think your life is the hardest possible thing – at least you have a life.

We are entitled to death. Anything else is a gift.