Thursday, July 23, 2015

By This Everyone Will Know



I have been seriously convicted lately. Remember my post a couple of weeks ago titled "Just Another Beggar"? In it I talked about love and how we, as Christ-followers, are called to love others unconditionally. In fact, if we take the bible into account (which we always should but somehow tend to forget to do), then according to the verse above love is how the world will identify us as Christ-followers. 

This is a concept that I thought I understood. It's funny how God does that. He gets us exactly where we feel comfortable. The areas where I'm like, no really God, I got this. He's like . . . nope. I thought I understood the concept that Christians should love people like Jesus did. We say it every Sunday. We grow up hearing it. We know it, but we don't know it. We have the knowledge in our heads but not the concept in our hearts. In fact, I think this could be our downfall if we aren't careful. 

Christians don't love.

It's harsh, and of course there are always exceptions. But generally we don't. We judge. A lot. I think mostly out of fear. We fear what goes against our beliefs and so instead of acting in love we act out in judgment and hate. Jesus straight up tells us "By this everyone will know you are my disciples, if you love one another." He doesn't disguise it in a parable or use phrasing that is hard to decipher. This is one verse in the bible that has no alternate interpretations. He's basically saying, "Hey! All you people who claim to believe in me and follow me! You know how to make sure that other people know that about you, too? Love them!" It seems so simple, right? Love. Love people. That's what sets us apart from the rest of the world. But it isn't simple at all.

Look at the world today. We've created a generation of victims; people who are offended by every little thing they see on TV or social media. Bible verses offend people, every flag that exists offends people. Caitlin Jenner is praised for being who he (she?) truly believes she is while Tim Tebow, The Robertsons, and other publicly professing Christians in the media are told to keep their thoughts and beliefs to themselves. We are blaring out the idea that it is fine and dandy to be yourself as long as the version of "yourself" that you are doesn't offend anybody. Unfortunately that's impossible. Everything everyone does offends someone. We can't help it. The people in our society no longer have any firm beliefs of their own; therefore, it is easy to convince them that this or that should be considered offensive. Instead of just standing firm in our own beliefs in spite of what someone else posts online we react with outrage. Are our ideals so weak that a mere tweet could cause us to lose our sh*t? That a swatch of fabric, a quoted scripture, or a photo of a same-sex couple could cause us to feel so insecure in our foundations that we have to attack? Since when does everyone have to agree to get along? 

But I'm getting a bit off topic. 

Love isn't simple. Why isn't it simple? Think about the person you love most in the world. I bet there is nothing on earth that person could do to make you stop loving them. Oh, I'm sure there are plenty of things that person could do to make you angry or that could break your heart. But why would your heart break? Because you love them. 
I love Jake with everything I am. Jake is a sinful, imperfect human being who screws up occasionally, like we all do. He has the capability to break me in two if he wanted. He could say something that shattered my spirit. He could leave me. There are thousands of things he could do to break my heart. And God forbid something happens to him. My world would fall apart. The same could be said of my family. There is nothing they could do to make me love them less, but there are plenty of scenarios involving any one of them that could leave me brokenhearted. Why? Because I love them. When you love someone you give them the ability to hurt you. When you truly love and care about someone unconditionally, then there are so many ways that can come back and bite you. 

Look at the cross. Jesus came and he loved. He loved like no one had ever seen. He loved the prostitutes, the tax collectors, and the sinners. He loved you and he loved me. He loved us all so much that he died to break down the barriers between God and man. He suffered immense physical and emotional pain. His own disciples didn't recognize him for who he really was; the Son of God. They deserted him in his time of need. Yet he loved them enough to die. Why would we expect any less? Why would we think that when Jesus told us to love one another it would be any easier for us than it was for him?

I thought I loved people. But pretending to like someone isn't love. Being nice to someone and then patting myself on the back because "isn't that what Jesus would have done?" isn't love. Gossiping about someone's failures and faults isn't love. Talking sh*t behind someone's back isn't love. Yet these are all things that I do more frequently than I could handle admitting. In the South we have a joke that you can say anything you want about anyone and as long as you follow it up with "Bless her heart" then it doesn't count. That's nothing more than justification for gossip and slander and I am the worst. The worst of the worst, really. It's hard to love sinners because sinners sin. Sin hurts. We think it only hurts us so what's the harm, really? But sin hurts you and everyone who loves you. It's easier not to love. It's easier to just like and to enjoy being around; but to actually, truly, unconditionally love . . . well that's just too hard. 

If we loved the way Jesus calls us to then our hearts would always be broken. If we loved unconditionally then we would hurt for every lost person we came into contact with. If we could see people through Jesus' eyes and love them as a Child of God then we wouldn't be afraid of another person's beliefs. 

"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears is not perfected in love." 1 John 4:18

If we loved the way God asks us to, then we wouldn't attack someone when their beliefs contrasted with our own. We would show them Christ's love in the hope that they would come into a relationship with him. We do not have the ability to change someone's heart. Only God has that power. We have the ability to love. The entire world is entrenched in hate. How do we cut through that hate? How do we spread the gospel of Christ? We set ourselves apart. 

We love.

By This Everyone Will Know



I have been seriously convicted lately. Remember my post a couple of weeks ago titled "Just Another Beggar"? In it I talked about love and how we, as Christ-followers, are called to love others unconditionally. In fact, if we take the bible into account (which we always should but somehow tend to forget to do), then according to the verse above love is how the world will identify us as Christ-followers. 

This is a concept that I thought I understood. It's funny how God does that. He gets us exactly where we feel comfortable. The areas where I'm like, no really God, I got this. He's like . . . nope. I thought I understood the concept that Christians should love people like Jesus did. We say it every Sunday. We grow up hearing it. We know it, but we don't know it. We have the knowledge in our heads but not the concept in our hearts. In fact, I think this could be our downfall if we aren't careful. 

Christians don't love.

It's harsh, and of course there are always exceptions. But generally we don't. We judge. A lot. I think mostly out of fear. We fear what goes against our beliefs and so instead of acting in love we act out in judgment and hate. Jesus straight up tells us "By this everyone will know you are my disciples, if you love one another." He doesn't disguise it in a parable or use phrasing that is hard to decipher. This is one verse in the bible that has no alternate interpretations. He's basically saying, "Hey! All you people who claim to believe in me and follow me! You know how to make sure that other people know that about you, too? Love them!" It seems so simple, right? Love. Love people. That's what sets us apart from the rest of the world. But it isn't simple at all.

Look at the world today. We've created a generation of victims; people who are offended by every little thing they see on TV or social media. Bible verses offend people, every flag that exists offends people. Caitlin Jenner is praised for being who he (she?) truly believes she is while Tim Tebow, The Robertsons, and other publicly professing Christians in the media are told to keep their thoughts and beliefs to themselves. We are blaring out the idea that it is fine and dandy to be yourself as long as the version of "yourself" that you are doesn't offend anybody. Unfortunately that's impossible. Everything everyone does offends someone. We can't help it. The people in our society no longer have any firm beliefs of their own; therefore, it is easy to convince them that this or that should be considered offensive. Instead of just standing firm in our own beliefs in spite of what someone else posts online we react with outrage. Are our ideals so weak that a mere tweet could cause us to lose our sh*t? That a swatch of fabric, a quoted scripture, or a photo of a same-sex couple could cause us to feel so insecure in our foundations that we have to attack? Since when does everyone have to agree to get along? 

But I'm getting a bit off topic. 

Love isn't simple. Why isn't it simple? Think about the person you love most in the world. I bet there is nothing on earth that person could do to make you stop loving them. Oh, I'm sure there are plenty of things that person could do to make you angry or that could break your heart. But why would your heart break? Because you love them. 
I love Jake with everything I am. Jake is a sinful, imperfect human being who screws up occasionally, like we all do. He has the capability to break me in two if he wanted. He could say something that shattered my spirit. He could leave me. There are thousands of things he could do to break my heart. And God forbid something happens to him. My world would fall apart. The same could be said of my family. There is nothing they could do to make me love them less, but there are plenty of scenarios involving any one of them that could leave me brokenhearted. Why? Because I love them. When you love someone you give them the ability to hurt you. When you truly love and care about someone unconditionally, then there are so many ways that can come back and bite you. 

Look at the cross. Jesus came and he loved. He loved like no one had ever seen. He loved the prostitutes, the tax collectors, and the sinners. He loved you and he loved me. He loved us all so much that he died to break down the barriers between God and man. He suffered immense physical and emotional pain. His own disciples didn't recognize him for who he really was; the Son of God. They deserted him in his time of need. Yet he loved them enough to die. Why would we expect any less? Why would we think that when Jesus told us to love one another it would be any easier for us than it was for him?

I thought I loved people. But pretending to like someone isn't love. Being nice to someone and then patting myself on the back because "isn't that what Jesus would have done?" isn't love. Gossiping about someone's failures and faults isn't love. Talking sh*t behind someone's back isn't love. Yet these are all things that I do more frequently than I could handle admitting. In the South we have a joke that you can say anything you want about anyone and as long as you follow it up with "Bless her heart" then it doesn't count. That's nothing more than justification for gossip and slander and I am the worst. The worst of the worst, really. It's hard to love sinners because sinners sin. Sin hurts. We think it only hurts us so what's the harm, really? But sin hurts you and everyone who loves you. It's easier not to love. It's easier to just like and to enjoy being around; but to actually, truly, unconditionally love . . . well that's just too hard. 

If we loved the way Jesus calls us to then our hearts would always be broken. If we loved unconditionally then we would hurt for every lost person we came into contact with. If we could see people through Jesus' eyes and love them as a Child of God then we wouldn't be afraid of another person's beliefs. 

"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears is not perfected in love." 1 John 4:18

If we loved the way God asks us to, then we wouldn't attack someone when their beliefs contrasted with our own. We would show them Christ's love in the hope that they would come into a relationship with him. We do not have the ability to change someone's heart. Only God has that power. We have the ability to love. The entire world is entrenched in hate. How do we cut through that hate? How do we spread the gospel of Christ? We set ourselves apart. 

We love.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Harry Potter (And Why Books are Always Better)


It's that time of year again. Every summer I re-read the Harry Potter series. I know it seems silly. I've read them before. I've watched all the movies. Why read them again? I know what happens. 
I always read my favorite books more than once. If you have a favorite movie, wouldn't you watch it more than once? 

I love these characters and I love this story. There's something special about reading it over and over again. There's so much more in the books that isn't included in the movies. And just because the story is over, that doesn't mean I can't re-visit whenever I want. That's the beauty of books.

J.K. Rowling has created a world where magic is real, anything is possible, love is a powerful and unbeatable force, and good triumphs over evil. What's not to love? Even though I know these are technically children's books, I can't help but appreciate them more and more as I get older. In a world where lines are always blurred, right and wrong are no longer easily defined, and absolute truths are scoffed at and considered ignorant, it's nice to escape to a place where good and evil are a little bit easier to distinguish.  

I've just completed the series again, and I've lost count of how many times I've read it. (I'm thinking at least 5?) I love the movies almost as much, but the more I read the books the more disappointed I am in the movies. There is so much left out; so much that seems unimportant at first but that is absolutely necessary to understand all the aspects of the story as Rowling intended. It doesn't take away from the acclaim of the movies, I just have to take the two as separate entities. I've seen this photo floating around the internet and I have to agree with it.


It's a good illustration to portray what I mean. It may seem like the screenwriters left out only the parts of the book that the story didn't really need; however, the author puts all that in the book for a reason.

For instance, those of you who haven't read the books, can you explain why Voldemort's body-binding curse on Neville didn't last at the end of the last movie? Why was Neville able to break free so easily? If you didn't read the book then you don't know that when Harry voluntarily sacrificed himself and allowed Voldemort to kill him, he imbibed everyone at Hogwarts with the same protection that his mother gave him when she died to save him. He died to save everyone there and his self-sacrifice protected them from Voldemort. It's a complicated notion that is fully explained in the books, but only hinted at in the movie. Also, if you didn't read the books you were never introduced to Peeves or Winky, and you didn't ever really get to know Kreacher. Also, if you never read the books then you never understood what a total badass Ginny Weasley was. 

I love reading and I love literature, so of course I am going to passionately defend the book over the movie every time (Hunger Games, Game of Thrones, Water for Elephants, even Twilight was better as a book - although still not great).  I know not everyone loves to read the way that I do. However, even if you hate it, I would challenge you to find a book that has a movie counterpart and read it. See how much you miss out on by not reading the book. I think you'll be surprised.

As always, when I write a post about a book, here are some of my favorite quotes from the Harry Potter series. Since it's a 7 book series and I don't want to bore you, I narrowed it down to my 2 favorite quotes from each book.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
  • "After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure." - Dumbledore
  • "The trouble is, humans do have a knack of choosing precisely those things that are worst for them." - Dumbledore
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  • "It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are far more than our abilities." - Dumbledore
  • "Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can't see where it keeps its brain!" - Arthur Weasley
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  • "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good." - The Maurauders
  • "You think the dead we have loved ever truly leave us? You think that we don't recall them more clearly than ever in times of great trouble?" - Dumbledore
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  • "If you want to know what a man's like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals." - Sirius Black
  • "It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be." - Dumbledore
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  • "Youth cannot know how age thinks and feels. But old men are guilty if they forget what it was to be young." - Dumbledore
  • "Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect." - Luna Lovegood
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
  • ". . . people find it easier to forgive others for being wrong than being right." - Dumbledore
  • "It is the unknown we fear when we look upon death and darkness, nothing more." - Dumbledore
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  • "We're all human aren't we? Every human life is the same and worth saving." - Kingsley Shacklebolt
  • ". . . perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it . . . " - Dumbledore

Harry Potter (And Why Books are Always Better)


It's that time of year again. Every summer I re-read the Harry Potter series. I know it seems silly. I've read them before. I've watched all the movies. Why read them again? I know what happens. 
I always read my favorite books more than once. If you have a favorite movie, wouldn't you watch it more than once? 

I love these characters and I love this story. There's something special about reading it over and over again. There's so much more in the books that isn't included in the movies. And just because the story is over, that doesn't mean I can't re-visit whenever I want. That's the beauty of books.

J.K. Rowling has created a world where magic is real, anything is possible, love is a powerful and unbeatable force, and good triumphs over evil. What's not to love? Even though I know these are technically children's books, I can't help but appreciate them more and more as I get older. In a world where lines are always blurred, right and wrong are no longer easily defined, and absolute truths are scoffed at and considered ignorant, it's nice to escape to a place where good and evil are a little bit easier to distinguish.  

I've just completed the series again, and I've lost count of how many times I've read it. (I'm thinking at least 5?) I love the movies almost as much, but the more I read the books the more disappointed I am in the movies. There is so much left out; so much that seems unimportant at first but that is absolutely necessary to understand all the aspects of the story as Rowling intended. It doesn't take away from the acclaim of the movies, I just have to take the two as separate entities. I've seen this photo floating around the internet and I have to agree with it.


It's a good illustration to portray what I mean. It may seem like the screenwriters left out only the parts of the book that the story didn't really need; however, the author puts all that in the book for a reason.

For instance, those of you who haven't read the books, can you explain why Voldemort's body-binding curse on Neville didn't last at the end of the last movie? Why was Neville able to break free so easily? If you didn't read the book then you don't know that when Harry voluntarily sacrificed himself and allowed Voldemort to kill him, he imbibed everyone at Hogwarts with the same protection that his mother gave him when she died to save him. He died to save everyone there and his self-sacrifice protected them from Voldemort. It's a complicated notion that is fully explained in the books, but only hinted at in the movie. Also, if you didn't read the books you were never introduced to Peeves or Winky, and you didn't ever really get to know Kreacher. Also, if you never read the books then you never understood what a total badass Ginny Weasley was. 

I love reading and I love literature, so of course I am going to passionately defend the book over the movie every time (Hunger Games, Game of Thrones, Water for Elephants, even Twilight was better as a book - although still not great).  I know not everyone loves to read the way that I do. However, even if you hate it, I would challenge you to find a book that has a movie counterpart and read it. See how much you miss out on by not reading the book. I think you'll be surprised.

As always, when I write a post about a book, here are some of my favorite quotes from the Harry Potter series. Since it's a 7 book series and I don't want to bore you, I narrowed it down to my 2 favorite quotes from each book.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
  • "After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure." - Dumbledore
  • "The trouble is, humans do have a knack of choosing precisely those things that are worst for them." - Dumbledore
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  • "It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are far more than our abilities." - Dumbledore
  • "Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can't see where it keeps its brain!" - Arthur Weasley
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  • "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good." - The Maurauders
  • "You think the dead we have loved ever truly leave us? You think that we don't recall them more clearly than ever in times of great trouble?" - Dumbledore
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  • "If you want to know what a man's like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals." - Sirius Black
  • "It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be." - Dumbledore
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  • "Youth cannot know how age thinks and feels. But old men are guilty if they forget what it was to be young." - Dumbledore
  • "Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect." - Luna Lovegood
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
  • ". . . people find it easier to forgive others for being wrong than being right." - Dumbledore
  • "It is the unknown we fear when we look upon death and darkness, nothing more." - Dumbledore
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  • "We're all human aren't we? Every human life is the same and worth saving." - Kingsley Shacklebolt
  • ". . . perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it . . . " - Dumbledore