April 29, 2008

If I'm Lying, I'm Dying

Right before Acts 5.1-11, everyone is coming together. “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had…There were no needy persons among them” (4.32, 34a). People are selling their possessions and bringing the money back to the apostles so that they can distribute it to the people who need it. Then, chapter 5 starts of with a story of a man, Ananias, and his wife, Sapphira. Verses 1 and 2 say that they sold a piece of property and “with his wife’s knowledge, [Ananias] kept back part of the money for himself” and gave the rest to the apostles. When he gave the money to Peter, Peter called him out on lying about it, and the dude literally fell dead at his feet. Later, after they carry him out, Sapphira (who doesn’t know that her husband has died yet), comes in to Peter. He asks her if the money Ananias had given was the same amount of money he had received for his property, and she says yes. He calls her out just the same and she falls dead at his feet, too.

  1. I want to be a good wife someday. I do want to be submissive to my husband, and I want him to be able to lead me. However, I hope I’m the kind of wife who can call her husband to resist the sin and temptation he faces in order to help him through it rather than holding his hand and walking into it with him. Sapphira knew that her husband was holding back the money and she knew that he was going to lie to Peter, and she was fine with that. She helped him along, and she suffered for it. What got her is that she didn’t realize her husband had been called out and had died. She could have come clean and admitted her sin and been free, but she stuck with it and died with him.
  2. They weren’t punished for holding back the money. They were punished because they were deceitful and lied about it. By lying, they were trying to appear super generous when really they weren’t giving it all. They were trying to make themselves seem really pious, and they were doing it to be seen and noticed; for selfish gain. And Peter specifically says that Ananias had not lied to men, but to God.
  3. I just think it’s crazy that they died from lying. They tried to deceive the Holy Spirit and hold onto what did not belong to them, and they just dropped dead. There’s a story to tell your kids about lying…

April 28, 2008

Dishonor in Honor

So I finally made it through the gospels. I think it took me about a semester (not because I was thorough and spent time to unpack it but because of my inconsistency), and now I'm in Acts. in chapter 5, the apostles are going around preaching what Jesus had taught and working in His name to start the church. The Sanhedrin is mad, and they want to put Peter to death.
(This doesn't have much to do with my main point, but I liked it. A Pharisee named Gamaliel gets up and explains that there have been a couple people in the past that have appeared and attempted a revolt, but they were killed and their followers dispersed. He convinces them to just let it be because "if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God." The verse itself is really good, but with the examples before it, it's freaking awesome. I could do more on that, but that's not my point).

After that, "the apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name." I laughed at this. I think it's great. I can just pictures a group of 20-something year old guys walking out of an intense situation laughing with each other, high-fiving and talking about how crazy life is sometimes. Acts is full of their first experiences where they were really living like Christ. They were really putting themselves out there and risking persecution for it. And they were so excited when it happened because they knew they were continuing the work Jesus had started. I think a part of it was the whole guy thing where they don't mind getting into potentially life-threatening, adrenaline-filled situations as long as the come out of them alive and triumphant. The message remix says that "they had been given the honor of being dishonored on account of the Name." The honor of being dishonored. I love it.

I just think it's really amazing that these guys are fully learning how to live for Christ and how to put themselves out there in order to preach the Gospel, and they're kind of excited about having their lives threatened. Jesus told them they would be persecuted in their name because if He was persecuted, were they any better? He told them this would happen, and it did. And now they're excited to see that Jesus was right, but He has left the Holy Spirit and with all of that knowledge, they continue to carry on with joy.

April 22, 2008

Much Love

Ok Rob beat me to the punch when he wrote his blog about how insane our friendship has been and how God works even if we're not noticing it, but I swear I planned to use him as an example in my blog before he did. So, with that said, Rob is my best friend. We spend a lot of time around each other, and I think it's safe to say that he knows me better than anyone; not just that he can tell you things about me, but that he understands my personality and my reactions to things and my emotions. He's experienced just about every ridiculous emotion from me. He sees me at my best and at my worst and somehow manages to love me equally at both of those times. I've done some pretty stupid things, reacted very poorly to certain situations and allowed myself to give up and let my negative emotions control me. He knows my flaws, but he recognizes them without dwelling on them. He encourages me to move past them because he sees the potential in me.

I'm very limited in my scope of how big God is. I need to attach human characteristics all of the time in order to understand Him. I feel like sometimes I do keep Him in a box, but I need to start small with examples from my life to remember His love for me. (And that was my disclaimer so that no one thinks that I view Rob as equal to God in my life. That said,) Jesus' love for me is like my best friend's multiplied by a million. Jesus knows the things about me that even I've forgotten. He's heard every blasphemous, hateful, curse word-ridden thought I've ever had. He knows my deepest fears and my strongest doubts against Him. He sees my insecurities and my insufficiencies. He's seen me lie, cheat and steal. But somehow, at the end of the day--in a way I'll never understand--He still loves me as His daughter. He still speaks to the potential within me rather than dwelling on my flaws. He knows that I'm growing and that one day I will overcome the things that hold me back from Him. So I'm still trying to put God's love for me into perspective. And even aside from Rob(ert), I have plenty of people who show me that small fraction of what God's love for me is like. I just need to take all of that and learn how to magnify it, understand it and embrace it.

April 21, 2008

On His Own

God puts people in our lives to teach us certain things. I think that's obvious. But what's really cool is when God teaches us something directly...or at least almost directly. I mean there are always people or circumstances or resources that help us along.
In my opinion, singing is something that God taught me more directly. Neither of my parents are incredibly musically inclined. They surrounded me with a lot of music when I was little and they encouraged me, at least. And I was in chorus from 3rd to 12th grade, so obviously that did something. But for the most part, singing is an innate ability. I think I like it better that I can't really give credit to anyone but God for it. And that amplifies it's meaning to me. Because singing is something weirdly personal for me. I rarely sing in public like I do when I'm by myself. I don't like singing in front of small groups of people because I'm afraid of seeing their reactions up close. I can't explain it, but it's just...my own, and I have a hard time sharing it sometimes.
My point is that we're taught certain things by the people God has put in our lives. We're taught by the situations God puts us in. We're taught by a lot of things a lot of times, but sometimes God does it by Himself.

April 19, 2008


So I was all ready to go to sleep (because I have to be up in about 5 hours to get ready and leave for Motion rehearsal and I only got about 3 hours of sleep last night) when I finally did my quiet time. I know. 2am. I'm a total slacker. Not the point.

In John 20:10-18, Jesus has died and has been put in the tomb. Mary and some of the disciples have already been there and discovered that He is gone. The disciples leave and Mary stands outside Jesus' tomb crying. As she's crying, she looks in the tomb and sees two angels standing where His body was. They ask her why she's crying, and she explains that Jesus is gone and she doesn't know where His body is. As soon as she said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, except she didn't recognize Him. So He asks her why she's crying and who she's looking for. Thinking He's the gardener, she asks Him if He has taken the body. And then...maybe the most amazing, intimate, beautifully simple verse I've read in a really long time:

Jesus said to her,"Mary."

And instantly she recognizes Him. Without hesitation, she realizes that He is Jesus, her Teacher, her Lord. I'm not sure yet how to explain why this affects me the way it does, but I think it's wonderful. She's crying and crying because her hope has died on the cross and she can't even see and take care of His body. I'm sure seeing 2 angels was pretty unbelievable for her, but all she wanted to do was figure out where Jesus was.
And then He shows up (because He always does), but she can't recognize Him. Not yet. Not until He calls her specifically by name. He doesn't have to yell. He doesn't have to fight. He doesn't have to do anything extreme. He says her name, and that's it. She's done. In my head, this moment is extremely intimate and personal. He doesn't have to shout. In my head, He barely breathes her name. But in that breath, her eyes are opened and she sees the Teacher for who He is, and I can just imagine the peace she has in that moment.

In my struggle to view Jesus has a personal entity in my life, I feel like maybe I'm looking at Him all the time. Maybe I'm staring right at Him without recognizing Him. But I'm just waiting for Him to say my name in one breath that wakes me up and floods my heart with peace. I'm just waiting for Him to say my name.

April 18, 2008

They'll Know We Are Christians

by our Love.

Lately, God has been putting it on my heart to think deeper about the idea of Love. I've started reading the Ragamuffin Gospel, which is phenomenal. I really just want to get it through my thick skull that God has already saved me, He already loves me and He has called me to Love. Jesus loved the outcasts. He loved everyone. We're called to love everyone. Aside from that, I'm still going through John. 13:34-35 says
[a new command I give you: Love one another. as I have Loved you, so you must Love one another. by this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you Love one another]
and on top of that, we've started reading "On Religion" by John Caputo in my religion class. The first chapter is just on God and Love in general.
One of my favorite lines so far is "if Love is the measure, the only measure of Love is Love without measure." And it's about loving without holding anything back. About loving unconditionally and beyond mediocrity. We put boundaries on our love without even realizing it. We have extremely high standards for the people we love. It's easy to love our best friends, but much harder to love the people we think are weird (even though we're just as weird). "The mark of really loving someone or something is unconditionality and excess, engagement and commitment, fire and passion. Its opposite is a mediocre fellow, neither hot nor cold, moderate to the point of mediocrity." And I'm reminded that the opposite of love isn't hate, it's indifference. When we really love, we throw ourselves into something. We commit and we commit with passion. When we don't love, we don't care.
And then it comes full circle back to God in 1 John 4:7-8 -- "Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love...God is love and those who abide in love abide in God and God abides in them."

Loving each other is loving God. Love is God. God is Love. Ok, I can't help myself. One more quote:
"As Love is the first name of God, "of God" is also the best name we have for those who Love."

I'm sorry. I feel like I could have split all of that up and unpacked each part and made this blog worthwhile, but this is all I have for now. God is Love, and He has called us to love in His name.

April 15, 2008

There's Really No Point

I'm writing to say that I have nothing to write about.
Exciting, I know. Anyways, here are some things going on:

-Rob and I went to see Wicked this past weekend at Ovens (thanks Bradelyn). It was an awesome show. I've been listening and dancing around to the soundtrack since Friday.

-School is quickly coming to a close and I'm freaking out. No job, no place to live (if you have a spare room in your house, I might be moving in with you very soon). Should be an exciting beginning to the summer.

-I'm back on stage this week, and we're doing "Sing Your Praises Out" which I think I can safely say is my favorite song from our guys.

-Also, Clemson's FCA band is traveling up here to Winthrop tonight to lead worship for our FCA. Considering the last time our own students led worship for FCA and made it painfully obvious that they hadn't practiced or prepared one bit, I'm super excited to have a band who is willing to put excellence into worship. Elevation has ruined me in that sense; I'm very thankful.

-Aaaaaand...that's all I've got.
It's a lame week in the blogging world for me.

April 9, 2008

He is Sovereign

Yesterday in one of my religion classes, we started studying theodicy. We spent the class talking about religion and how suffering plays into our lives and how we explain it. Then today I opened my bible to continue going through John to find I'm on the passage where Jesus heals the man who has been blind since he was born. He sees the man and His disciples ask Him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" And Jesus answers, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned...but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life."
One of the types of Theodicy we talked about was the Appeal to Sovereignty. Anyone else who spoke up about this type of theodicy argued that this was the least satisfying of all of the types. They felt that it left too much room for chance and didn't provide instant gratification. The funny thing is that this type was the most satisfying to me because it requires the most faith. I believe that I serve a God who is good, all-knowing and all-powerful. Therefore, I believe in a God that uses our shortcomings and weakness and disabilities to show His glory through our lives. The problem of suffering is no problem at all if it displays His power, His strength and His beauty through us.
If the man had not been born blind (if he did not have a problem that was seemingly impossible to fix), then Jesus would not have had to work that miracle in his life and God's glory would not have been displayed in that specific way in that man's life.

April 7, 2008

Really Free?

In John 8:31-59, Jesus is talking with some Jews who claim to follow Him. The entire passage is really good and hopefully I'll figure out how to condense it and blog about it later, but what really got me were the first few verses of it.

"Jesus said, 'If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.' They answered him, 'We are Abraham's descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?'"

It's so funny to me because half the time we don't even realize we're not free. These guys are kind of offended that Jesus would claim they are slaves. They're obviously much better than that. But really...they're not. We're not. Jesus offers us freedom, but we won't take it sometimes because we don't even realize how trapped we are by our sin. It reminds me of what Pastor said about our disabilities. Jesus asks us "Do you want to get well?" And we are offended that He would even ask such a question. Until we realize that we've been hiding behind those disabilities and letting them become our facade. Jesus tells us that we could be free, and we are offended that He would even imply that we were not already. Jesus goes on to say that whoever has sinned is a slave to that sin. We are slaves through and through. If we were not, we would not sin. But still, Jesus offers us freedom every day.
You would think with the word written permanently on my wrist, I would remember to take that freedom more often. You would think that I would get tired of being held captive by my sins and that I would learn how to get over myself and let Jesus set me free and make me well.

P.S. Lee McDerment's cd is phenomenal. As good as it is, it just makes me more excited about Elevation's cd coming out. We went back and recorded some extra crowd vocals today, and it was awesome. The very small amount we heard off of it blew me away. I'm so thankful to have the guys we have who have worked so hard on this. It's going to be great.

April 4, 2008

You See Weakness, I See Strength

So it's pretty obvious that I'm emotional (as Jennica so kindly pointed out last night by asking "But Kelly...what doesn't make you cry?" Thanks for reminding me, roomie).
Anyways, I was thinking today about who I was before I chose to live for Jesus. I was pretty normal, I think. I was emotional, but I think a lot of that was just because I was a girl coming out of middle school with divorced parents (and a dad who moved on far too quickly, in my opinion) and a brother who didn't exactly want to be my best friend. I was the normal kind of emotional. The kind that most girls go through and grow out of...or at least they learn how to hide it.
What I realized, though, is that most of my emotional-ness comes out of my decision to follow Christ. Yeah, I was emotional before, but since being saved, it's picked up a bit. And what this tells me is that it's a characteristic of myself that is in me for a very specific reason. It's something that God chose to build in me. It only makes sense to me, then, that this trait would be heightened once I chose to live for Him.

This is something that I've been struggling with for a while, and I'll probably struggle with it for the rest of my life: trying to tone down my emotions and keep them in control without burying and hiding the fact that they are built into me very intentionally by my Maker. For now, I'll stay reassured that (since they've only gotten stronger as my walk with God has progressed) they are within me for a reason and hopefully they will only help me in pursuing the heart of my God.