Thursday, December 19, 2013

My Personal Opinion

I don't normally form opinions about things.

 I hate conflict and I don't like arguments. Now, I'll argue with you about whether WallE of Toothless is cuter, because that doesn't matter. But when it comes to things that really make a difference in the world, I think I am afraid to voice my thoughts because I am always learning more and changing how I feel later. What if I adamantly defend one point of view, only to discover I was wrong a few months later?

But I suppose the point of arguing is to present an argument and listen to the other person's argument, and therefore learn more about the subject and possibly change your opinion. But for now, I can only base it on what I know.

And here's what I know:
1 Timothy 3:2 gives a strict list of the lifestyle requirements for a church bishop: "above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap."

So, sorry that was such a long quotation, but there is a long list of requirements. And then it goes on to say more about the deacons, and their wives. You see, the church took their leaders seriously.  Maybe it is because they took God seriously.

In the midst of persecution, the people who accepted this new, possibly heretic faith wanted to be fully transformed by God. They wanted to hand everything over to him and completely trust him with their lives. They had to if they were going to turn their back on their family's way of living in order to follow Jesus. Jesus commanded his disciples to leave their families and follow him, to not turn back or second-guess their decision. He wanted serious followers.

So if you're a serious follower of a serious religion, you certainly want leaders who are serious. Maybe it's because we don't feel we need Jesus anymore; church is just something we do to make us look good on college applications and to the local community. Maybe it doesn't even do that anymore. Maybe church is just an outlet for people who feel the need to live for something bigger than themselves, so they join the church and try to change her to fit their lifestyles.

Leaders are not called to the church to rewrite her doctrine, leaders are called to serve her and take care of her. Now obviously we are human, and we screw up in the church all the time, so yeah, we can speak up if we don't agree with something. But we cannot change what the church fundamentally is, and that is a place to learn about and serve Jesus Christ. That means we have to follow his rules. If you don't want to follow his rules, you probably don't want to be a part of the church.

A pastor should be someone who cares passionately about God and passionately about the church. A pastor should believe in the Bible. A pastor is going to be preaching from the Bible. That's what pastors do. Therefore, I don't believe that someone who disregards portions of the Bible they do not agree with, is really suited to be a pastor. It's like you want to be a professional photographer, but you only ever change the shutter speed, and not the aperture. Or you want to be a chef, but you leave the salt out of every recipe, because you don't believe in salt. If you don't believe in and advocate the Bible, you can't preach from the Bible.

So this, I suppose, is an argument about a random subject, but this is what I pondered in my devotions this morning. I don't think I adequately shared all sides of the argument, but this is already a long blog post, so if you make it down to here, I hope you'll understand. There are too many little details that one can complain about to cover them all anyway. But basically, according to my logic, I don't think the church is wrong in preventing people who don't accept the Bible's standards from being pastors. They can be a part of the church, they are not bad people at all, but pastors are held to a higher standard, and I'd think that if you cared enough to be a pastor, you would care enough to accept those standards.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Recipe of the Week

It's almost finals week. That time when college students live off of 2 hours of sleep, coffee (with lots of sugar), and pop tarts, and are lucky if they don't hurt somebody in the process of getting all their final papers written and art projects printed.

And I almost forgot the recipe of the week!

But you can breath easily again, because I did remember and I did get inspiration for a very satisfying dish this week. The dish is more satisfying than the picture, because Charleeee was laughing at me for photographing my food, and Caleb wanted to try some (it's that good!) so I didn't have time to get a good picture. But like I said, the food is good, and that's all that matters.

Rushing out the door to make it to Baldwin before they closed, I asked my roommate for an idea. She told me she had just seen something today that I should try: Macaroni and cheese grilled cheese. I wasn't quite sure how to go about that, but that led to another suggestion. Charlee (my inside man) told me how our other friend had been trying to make something like Hamburger Helper. And that is what led to this:
I grabbed meat and the liquidy cheese stuff off the taco bar, along with some extra shredded cheese and tomatoes. I cooked the stuff together in a frying pan, and then added some pasta. All this was good, but it needed something more...what to do, what to do? Well, ask the rotisserie chef what spices to put in, since there was a whole stack of spices at the pasta bar staring me right in the face. His suggestion was good: Italian seasoning. You can't really go wrong with Italian seasoning and pasta.

So that's it: Noodles, taco meat, tomatoes, lots of cheese, and Italian seasoning, and more cheese on top. Because cheese is good.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

All the Time

God is good.

All the time.

And all the time,

God is good.

The classic "get your congregation involved" routine: the pastor shouts, "God is good!" And the congregation responds, "All the time!" And vice versa. So for my fellow old-school church friends, thank you for responding to my prompt.

But let me just take some time to tell you how good God really is. This is the last week of classes, and then there are final exams next week. It's the point where everyone is freaking out and trying to finish projects and cram for tests, and yet I'm just hanging out at work, reading over some poems and thoughts I wrote down in a notebook at the beginning of the semester.

And I was blown away by what I read.

Here is an excerpt from my writings:
This, God, is my letter to you at the start of my senior year. That my life would not overwhelm me so that I would feel out of control. That the sun which shines in my heart would not disappear with the clouds of winter and looming assignments...That my goal in life would be to be involved in someone else's life...Not to change their life or be a big factor in it, but to be involved...God let me be a ray of sunshine when the worries and stress overshadow.

That's what I asked for at the beginning of the semester. This is how I feel at the end of the semester:

Not at all stressed or worried. And all semester I remember feeling this unearthly calm about my life and my homework assignments. It was unusual, but I just didn't get shaken by problems when the internet shut down or the test was harder than anticipated. And now, at the end of the semester, when it seems like everyone around me is loaded with work and stress, I still have that peace. I kept wondering when it was going to end, but it hasn't. And now I've realized where that "peace that transcends all understanding" has come from.

There was about a week after I quit my job that I was depressed and felt useless. But I found the strength in God to overcome that, and I can't say that I've been incredibly depressed since. There were a few random days when I decided to be in a bad mood, but overall, the cloudy weather has not put a damper on my spirit.

And the most exciting part of all is how I have been able to be involved in the lives of others this semester. I got to travel around with a couple different friends taking pictures of them, and they shared with me how special the experience made them feel. :) I also got to go out with a couple of the high schoolers from work who are taking a photography class. I accompanied them on their photo shoots, which was cool because, yeah, I could offer some advice, but basically I just got to be there for them as support and encouragement. I'm glad I was able to give some of my time to them. And the really cool thing that I realized is, because I work in the photo lab and am not taking as heavy a load as other students, I was able these past couple of weeks to cover shifts for people who were working on their senior shows. Tonight was the opening of this semester's senior shows, and everyone put in a lot of work and did a fantastic job! And I am really grateful that I got to contribute in some small way just by giving people some extra time to get their show done. While they hit the busiest part of their semester, I could at least take some of that pressure off of them, and I am so grateful to God for that opportunity. And I didn't even remember that I had asked for it!