Mondays are awkward.
There’s really just no getting around the absolute awkwardness of Mondays. From your first day of school when your light-up sneakers just die, to the second first-day of your freshman year of college, Mondays will reign as the champion of being awkward and making students everywhere question their coolness and ability to carry on an intelligent conversation.
Well, now that that’s out of the way, I read something really cool today in my Bible 🙂
This morning when I woke up, I woke up two hours after my alarm had gone off. Charlene was going to drop off her things this morning around 8:45am. She decided she was going to drop them off a day earlier than when she was actually staying. So I decided I would just wake up when she knocked on the door. Well, I didn’t know that she’d texted me before eight saying she’d just bring it tomorrow instead. Anyway, I woke up late.
I automatically went into panic mode, thinking I wouldn’t have enough time to get ready and have breakfast AND do my devotions. But I stopped and remembered how God always comes through when I put Him first and even when I don’t. So instead of getting ready, I poured myself some cereal, sat down with my Bible, devotional, and journal, and I let myself enjoy my time with God instead of rushing through it, reminding myself that God would give me plenty of time to do everything else.
I was in Isaiah 43 this morning, and, though I distinctly remember reading verses from this chapter, I don’t remember reading what I read this morning. Now, some people say that when Jesus came to earth and died for everyone so that the entire human race would be able to have an opportunity to be permanently reconciled to Him, the Gentiles sort of replaced the Jews. This is false. The Jewish people are still God’s chosen people: nothing will ever change that. The Gentiles didn’t replace the Jewish people, they just became part of them, meaning that the information about God and about salvation traditionally available only to the Jews was now available to the Gentiles. Gentiles could also have a relationship with God. We as Gentiles became part of the Old Testament relationship between God and Israel; we were given the opportunity to have a place in God’s family and experience the love the one true God can give. Now, the prophecies concerning the End Times in Revelation and Daniel and everywhere else in the Old and New Testament that have to do specifically with the nation of Israel aren’t what I’m talking about. Let me show you.
In my Bible, Isaiah 43 is titled “Israel’s Only Savior.” This chapter is all about God’s love for Israel. God is reassuring Israel of His love for her, telling her that He would “give Egypt as her ransom” (v.3b), that she can “fear not, for He is with her” (v.5). The reason why I included the above explanation is because I was reading this chapter removed, as if I wasn’t a part of this adorning of love and protection and purpose. But as I read it, I realized that I was part of it too. “You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me. I, I am the Lord, and besides me there is no savior…I am God” (v. 10,11, 12b).
Sometimes when I’m reading the Old Testament I feel like it doesn’t apply to me, because it’s so much about God’s relationship with Israel. But as I continue to study it and read it I realize that, while it’s important to read things in context and while the Old Testament is crucial to Israel’s spiritual identity, this is my history as well.
“But Hunter, you’re not Jewish…at all.”
I know! But because Christ came down to earth, He made me part of His family. In Ephesians 2 it says, “So then you (Gentiles) are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord” (v.19-21). When I thought about this, I suddenly wondered if Jewish people weren’t offended. Actually, I KNOW some were offended by this. Paul, however, in preceding passages, says “remember that you (Gentiles) were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility…” (v. 12-14).
WOOHOO!!! In other words, the Gentiles (that would be all non-Jewish people) were no longer separated from God, the promises given to the Israelites, or the Israelites themselves. The “dividing wall of hostility” was the barrier that existed between the Jews and the Gentiles, the Chosen and the Aliens. That wall wasn’t there anymore. Just like when God took the temple curtain between His hands and ripped it in two, so did He destroy the wall between the Jews and the Gentiles…we are brothers and sisters in Christ now. When I read this chapter in Ephesians I couldn’t believe it. I know this sounds weird but, for some reason, I’d never read that passage before, or maybe I had but now it makes sense. I mean, I knew that I was part of the family of God, but I had never read where it said it in the Bible. It was one of those things that you’re told your whole life from godly men and women but never actually read though you knew it was true. And now I know. Wow.
As I continued to read I was tempted to worry about time, but I reminded myself that God is in control of time itself. So I finished my devotions and my breakfast, got ready, and went to class. I got there in plenty of time, and my professor didn’t come until a couple minutes after class was supposed to start 🙂
Today in World Lit we learned more about Buddhism. We discussed enlightenment and haikus and koans and different kinds of Buddhism and how there were many different Buddhas. While I take notes in this class I often compare what Doloff (my professor) says about religion and literature to what God says in His word. While there were multiple Buddhas (who were considered supernatural or non-supernatural, depending on if you were part of Mahayana or Theravada, respectively), there was only one Christ and one God. While enlightenment and zen come from inside you and are something you have to achieve, God comes from outside and salvation is by grace and grace alone. You can do nothing to merit God’s love, salvation, or mercy, but He gives it to you freely.
After World Lit I got an email from my academic advisor asking me if I wanted to replace Intro. to Journalism with the Prattler (the school newspaper). I then asked if I couldn’t just do both, since they were on different days and I had time. He explained that I would have too many credits if I did that.
So this was kind of upsetting, mostly because I have tons of time and I want to spend as little time in my dorm as possible. There are certain wars that are better to avoid, and I’m trying to do that by staying out of my dorm. I decided, after talking with him further, I would attend Journalism tonight and if I didn’t think it was for me then I would do Prattler. Otherwise, to keep myself busy, I’ll just work out and do homework all the time…because that’s not going to totally benefit me or anything.
I grabbed lunch with Charlene and we hung out in my dorm. I couldn’t feel comfortable today, so I kept changing my outfit, which I can’t stand doing. I’m pretty sure I changed my outfit about four times today, but that’s not really important. What’s important is what happened in my Journalism class.
Critical Thinking and Writing was amazing. I really enjoyed it. We’re discussing language and how it affects us and the different ways we use it to communicate. I was reminded, however, of the fact that liberalism and evolution are a huge part of the mind set of my peers and of my professors. I was reminded that, even though I’m enjoying myself to an extent, I’m still in the minority.
Right, Intro. to Journalism.
Our professor showed up late and as she prepared to get ready for class she reminded me of Mrs. Elton from Jane Austen’s Emma, both the movie starring Gweneth Paltrow and the novel. She was very nice and very quirky, but she just reminded me of Mrs. Elton. She discussed bias and the importance of credibility and acknowledging both the left and the right views. I’ve heard the terminology before but I’ve never really figured out what was the left and what was the right. This is where I cringe.
I learned that the “left” side of anything is the liberal, socialist, marxist, pro-government side, and the “right” side is the conservative, traditional, capitalist, anti-government side (not meaning anarchy but an overreaching government involvement). This is when I learned about Westboro Baptist Church and their “God Hates Fags” slogan. Allow me to let you in on my reaction:
“Oh my gosh!!! WHAT ARE YOU DOING!!???? DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW MUCH YOU’RE TOTALLY MISREPRESENTING GOD??? Is homosexuality wrong and a sin? Yes. Does God hate sin? Yes. But lying, murdering, adultery, and jealousy are all sins too. God came to redeem people, not to hate them. No, God does not condone homosexuality, but that doesn’t mean because someone is homosexual they’re going to hell. The only sin that can send someone to hell is the absolute willful rejection of Jesus Christ, the abhorrence of God and His righteousness, and especially the Holy Spirit, which is the seal of salvation.”
Later on after class I went onto their website and I just cried inside. They said “thank God for 12 dead homosexual troops. We are praying for 12,000 more. We will picket their funerals on such and such a date.” No, no, no, no, no, no. This is so wrong. While the above reaction is my own, it’s not based on only my beliefs: it’s what God’s word says. (Mark 3:28,29 (the unforgivable sin), 1 John 1:9 (absolute forgiveness))
But you know what, God can defend Himself. He is totally capable of turning this whole thing around. Also, He’s got the future under wraps as well. It just breaks my heart I guess…
Then we talked about Pope Francis and an article about how when he with two children released doves into the air as a call to world peace, a crow and a seagull attacked the doves.
Now, the thing about world peace is that it’s impossible. I’m not trying to be a pessimist or an advocate for cynicism, but world peace is not part of God’s plan for the world, at least not pre-Revelation. In Matthew 10, Jesus talks about how He didn’t come to bring peace to the earth, but rather a sword. Because of the sin that infects all of creation, there will always be people who will not turn to God, who deny His existence and His sovereignty. There will always be conflict, unless every human being suddenly turns to God. It’s an inevitable separation that drives marriages apart, rips families in two, and destroys friendships. Do not misunderstand me: this isn’t because God is somehow at fault. This is because humans are innately sinful and selfish.
“So then why is there so much talk of peace in the Bible?”
The peace discussed is not world peace, but rather peace that comes from the Holy Spirit, from being in a relationship with God. “These things I have spoken to you that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33), “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way” (2 Thessalonians 3:16), “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Romans 12:18), and “Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it” (1 Peter 3:11). All of these verses discuss peace that comes from God. Does this mean we shouldn’t try to have peace in the world? No, not at all. But world peace (as in, peace throughout ALL the world) will never happen.
Even though it’s really easy to read articles and get caught up in the hype of politics and journalism, God is still able to calm everything down until one thing remains, which is the fact that His word still stands, regardless of what people do in His name. I forgot that it says in God’s word that people will kill in His name, even though it wasn’t actually His will at all, but rather the will of men. I don’t know…this just really, really, really bothers me…but I digress.
Wow. I’m so tired now after writing this. I try not to write about politics and about media and news, but that’s just plain unacceptable, Westboro Baptist. Come on now, people. Pope Francis, I’m so sorry about the doves. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go eat a Pop-Tart and watch Wuthering Heights.
“See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.”
—1 Thessalonians 5:15, ESV