Monday, January 26, 2009

Good or Evil?

Is man basically good or evil?

Until now, I was absolutely positive that man was basically evil. This is what I had always heard and believed, but I found something that could contradict that. Keep in mind: I don’t have an answer for this, I’m just speculating.

Genesis chapter 1 verse 27 says, “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” If we were created in the image of God, then we are not evil, we are good! After all, God is the epitome of perfection and goodness. From this verse, I can conclude that man is basically good.

Unfortunately, you must look at the Bible as a whole, and not pick out just a few verses. Genesis chapter 8 verse 21 gives a different view of this discussion: “The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in His heart: ‘Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood.’” This is God’s covenant to Noah after the Flood and its destruction of the earth. So God is saying that man is basically evil from the moment he is born. Doesn’t that contradict the first verse?

I know the Bible never contradicts itself, so this cannot be the answer.
The only conclusion that I can come to is that, when Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, the sin that entered their lives completely wiped out the purity of mind and body that God had given them. Since they allowed sin to play a part in their lives, they fell from God’s grace, and were no longer allowed to be like Him.

I suppose this is how the human race lost their goodness. We are still made in God’s image, but when we choose the world over God, we become evil inside. Thankfully, Jesus paved the way to perfection, and this can be attained by repenting and being baptized. If Jesus had not come, there would be no hope for regaining our status of goodness.

I still am unsure of my conclusion, but I think man starts out good, but when he allows sin to enter his life, he becomes evil and the only way to become good again is by accepting Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. I could be completely wrong, and if you have another opinion, please leave a comment. These are only the conclusions of a fifteen-year-old who is not wise enough to make these speculations without some help. Please leave your opinions for me to think on and take into consideration.

1 Corinthians 11:7a: “A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God.”

Friday, January 23, 2009

What We Take For Granted

This post probably won’t make sense to you unless you have ever been so sick you just wanted to die, so I’m sorry if it doesn’t apply, or grosses you out!

This week, I was sick. I don’t mean just a little cold that is more annoying than debilitating, I mean REALLY sick. I had Influenza B, and I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to go to heaven as much as I did on Monday. This type of Influenza basically starts out with the worst stomach flu imaginable, and then progresses into a really bad cold. All day Monday, I couldn’t keep even a sip of water down. I have never been so thirsty in all of my life! All I wanted was a drink of water, but I didn’t want to risk it.

It occurred to me in my semi-conscious state that I take water for granted WAY too often. If you’ve ever gone an entire day without a sip of liquid, you know what I mean. How many times a day do I go get a glass of water, take one sip, and dump the rest out? A little too often, apparently.

This got me thinking about what else I take for granted. There are so many things that I do not appreciate for their true value.

It is only when you are deprived of something that you begin to see its true importance.

How true is that statement? Sometimes we don’t care about something until it is taken away from us. This applies to people, possessions, and many other things. Not long ago, a family moved away from my church. I had babysat for them a couple of times, and really loved their kids. I did not realize what a part of our church body they were until they left. It was not until I wasn’t able to hug the kids that I realized how important they were to me.

And what about Jesus? It was only when he was hung on the cross that people came to see Him as the Messiah. Imagine how guilty you would feel if your whole life you had scorned Him, and then you come to find He is truly the Messiah! Jesus was taken for granted in possibly the worst way ever. His pain was immense at the hands of those who did not believe.

This week, I had to read the Diary of Anne Frank and write several essays about it. I love this book, and was glad to read something so interesting. Anne also took many things for granted and did not realize it until she went into hiding. She was deprived of so many things, and only realized their importance after they were taken from her. Her worst struggle was loneliness, because she could only see the eight people in hiding with her every day. How horrible would it be to be deprived of people?! I am not much of a people person, but I could not live without any interaction with people.

Think about it this week, and make a list of all the things you take for granted. I promise you that it will make you feel tremendously blessed. Isn’t it amazing how much we have that we don’t even know about?

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Carousel of Life

This weekend, my mom and dad took me to a big shopping mall in Denver. Colorado Mills is the BIGGEST mall I’ve ever seen, and even has a beautiful carousel in the middle of the food court.

My parents went to stand in line for lunch, and I stayed with our coats, purses, etc. I watched the carousel go round and round. For some reason, I have always been attracted to carousels, and I even still ride them when I get the opportunity. I may be fifteen, but I’m definitely still a kid.

As I watched the looks of pure glee on the children’s faces, I thought about my own experiences. I’ve always loved getting to choose which horse to ride on (I always pick a white or black one…don’t ask me why), and seeing the world spin by me. I love the look of joy on the children’s faces as they mount their horses.

And then, I looked at the faces of the parents.

Most of them looked like they couldn’t wait to get off. Now, I know that the “carousel song” can get extremely annoying after a while, but these parents didn’t even try to enjoy the ride. They just stood by their children, and looked cranky.

It seems to me that the culture these days wants us to rush everything. We are encouraged to experience everything we can, and hurry through life. The ads on the television are all about things you have to have NOW; you need this NOW, if you don’t have it, come get it NOW.

While we cannot prevent “now” from happening, we can choose to slow down and see God’s wonderful creations. So often, we take life in chunks at a time and miss the little joys God gives to us. I so often miss beautiful things that could really bless my life if I took the time to see them.

Having a daily devotional is something I try and do every day. I have made it a requirement that I must have my Bible reading done before I start anything else (schoolwork, chores, relaxation time, etc.). This helps me to slow down and focus on what God has for me to learn that day. It truly does help me stop and “take time to smell the roses”.

As I watched the carousel go around, my heart yearned to tell the parents to stop and enjoy the moment of fun. I wished I could tell them that eventually, they are going to jump off that carousel of life, and never be able to get back on. I wanted them to know that they should enjoy the time with their children, because they will not be young forever.

So often, we get caught up in the carousel of life, and we feel like it will never let us off. If we have a good attitude, and make something good come from everything, life will not be so unbearable. It is only when we make the carousel turn too fast that it becomes too much for us to handle.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A Change of Perspective

If you’ve ever had a birthday (and I’m sure you have!) you know what it is like to look back on the past and see how your life has changed.

Monday was my fifteenth birthday. All day, I kept thinking how my perspective has changed throughout my life. So much has happened in the past five years, and through it all I have come to see things in a very different light.

Up until fourth grade, I went to public school. I never thought about homeschooling or what it would be like. All I knew was public school. I went to Traut Core Knowledge School, and had many good teachers. My Kindergarten teacher was such a sweet and calm lady, and she taught me so much. My first grade teacher, Mrs. Schmidt, was a great support to me as a Christian. I would have to say my second grade teacher was my absolute favorite. Miss Elder (now Mrs. Hanlon), showed me that I didn’t have to rush through everything. She even made me do an assignment over because it wasn’t neat. (Yeah, I was mad then, but it has helped me ever since!) I was definitely the teacher’s pet in third grade… Mrs. Ashley was a great teacher and a wonderful influence. My fourth grade teacher was horrible, but one out of five isn’t bad…

The last day of fourth grade was very strange for me. My parents had decided to homeschool me and my siblings starting that very next year. I was terrified at the prospect of doing something so drastically different. I didn’t know what to make of it, and I cried a lot. That first year of homeschooling was very hard (especially for my mom!), but at the end of the year, I was absolutely in love with homeschooling. I even admitted to both my parents that I was wrong and they were right.

That began the start of my perspective change. I had been yanked out of my comfort zone and thrown into something completely different. I adjusted, but it wasn’t easy.
Slowly, I saw a change in my family as well. We began to have what we call “family worship” every night before bedtime. We read either a devotional book or shared what was on our hearts. This was a very good change, and has brought my family closer than ever before.

As we became more involved in the homeschool community, we began to see the pros and cons of public school. Last year’s homeschool conference (CHEC) brought the issue of worldview into my life in a very dramatic way. The messages of the speakers all revolved around worldview and spiritual legacy. My parents began to think about what Jeff Myers (a wonderful speaker on the homeschool circuit) calls “passing the baton” and what Doug Phillips (leader of Vision Forum) calls a “multi-generational vision”. I could see that my parents not only wanted to teach me what I needed to get into college, but what I need to pass the love of Jesus on to my children.

So much has changed for me in my fifteen years of life, and I am so grateful to all the people who have shown me these things. I want to thank my mom and dad for wanting to pass on a spiritual legacy to me and my siblings more than anything else in the world. I hope this next year of my life will bring about more good changes!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Whose Expectations?

I apologize to my four readers for not posting in two weeks… I have been very busy with the holidays, and not in a writing mood! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and are enjoying 2009!

Have you ever felt like you are being bombarded with a subject or something in particular? In the past two weeks or so, I have kept seeing the word “expectations” everywhere. I don’t usually stop and think about it, but it hit me rather hard.

If you know me very well, you know that I have a hard time making friends and reaching out to people because I am shy. Not painfully shy, but reserved enough that I don’t talk in public unless I am spoken to first. This has been a real problem for me since I was little, and especially now since I am in high school.

About two and a half years ago, my family decided to find a new church. We found Dayspring, and placed membership after about six months of visiting. If you have ever changed churches, you know that it is very difficult to fit in at first. Although it does not compare to moving to a different state, it is still hard. For me, it was weird to come in and suddenly be an outsider. I had gone to our previous church for nine years, and there was only one other girl in my grade level, so it was not a struggle to be accepted. When my family joined Dayspring, I was going into seventh grade, so I was placed in the middle school class. Almost every kid in the class went to the same school, was in the same class, and had grown up together. I did not know what they were talking about half the time, and felt like I was standing at the zoo looking in at the animals, but not able to connect with them in any way.

Right now, I am in the high school youth group and am the only homeschooled kid. It is incredibly hard to try and fit in, and pretend like I am just like them. For two years I have tried to make them like me (which is very difficult when you don’t talk out loud very often), and have hoped that one day they will see that I am no different than they are. I am not saying that the kids in the youth group are mean or pushy (they are actually very nice), but they can tell that I am vastly different from them.

Two weeks ago, it hit me.

I don’t have to be like them! I don’t have to pretend that I know what public high school is like. To live that way would be a lie! It’s okay to be different.

I am a people pleaser, and it is not always a good thing. I strive for acceptance and want to make everyone happy. I don’t like being an outcast, and I have cried many nights because I am so different from the other teens my age.

I’m slowly starting to realize that it is okay to be different. God made everyone unique in their own way, and we should not be ashamed of how we are. If we don’t like who God made us to be, we are insulting His creation.

The expectations of this world are drastically different from what God wants. The world is like a candy mold; we have to fit in just right, or we will stick out conspicuously. God wants us to follow his ways and not compare ourselves to anyone except Jesus Christ. It is His example we are to follow, and no one else’s.

Please don’t get me wrong. I would not trade homeschooling for anything in the world. I don’t mind being different, and not all homeschoolers are outcasts. I have chosen to be different, and it is okay. I am just one case in a million, so don’t base your view of homeschooling solely on my account.

I think one of the biggest expectations that the world has is friendship. The world expects us to be friends with our peers. I do not have very many friends that are my own age. (Yes, a shocker, I know.) My very best friend is my mom, and she is twenty years older than me. The world does not expect any teen girl to have a good relationship with her mom. The world doesn’t frown upon it, but it is not expected or normal.

On Tuesday, I went to Starbuck’s with my dear friend Candice McLaren. She is a young mom with five children. Obviously, I am only fourteen, don’t have children, and can’t even drive! And yet, Mrs. McLaren has reached out to me, and has befriended me. She has shown me so much about God, and has acted not only as a friend, but as a mentor as well. I am dearly grateful for her friendship. The world may think it is weird for me to be such good friends with someone in a different stage of life, but I think it is cool.

The teens of this world get into so much trouble nowadays. I can only wonder if it is because they only look to their peers for advice. I think having a friend that is a lot older than you will help you gain wisdom and knowledge.

Not only am I friends with people over twenty, I love children, too! A little girl at my church, Sarah, is one of my dear friends, and she is only six years old. In fact, on New Year’s Eve, I played hide and seek with her for nearly an hour. I did not do it just because she asked me, I did it because I wanted to.

Well, now that you’ve read this blog, you probably think that I am totally nuts. I just want to say that this year, I am not going to try to fit into the image of the world, I am going to be who God made me to be, and reach out through who I really am. I am so grateful that God has shown me my mistake, and I am going to strive to compare myself only to God.