Join us as we see where God is present in our lives. We most definitely aren't walking with Him in the Garden of Eden despite the fact that so many are shedding clothes instead of covering themselves up. However I am willing to bet that God is closer to us than we think and that He has genuinely planted truth in the flesh of our hearts.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day - The Price of Freedom

Today in the United States, we observe Memorial Day.  For many, Memorial Day is simply a day off from school/work, an opportunity to relax, bbq, and unofficially bring in the summer.  However, I think it's important for us to remember the real reason behind this very important holiday.  Memorial Day is an opportunity for us to remember all of those incredibly brave men and women who gave their lives defending our nation, who gave their lives defending our freedom.

We don't live in a perfect nation, but I think we can all agree that the freedom we enjoy here in the United States of America is a truly beautiful thing.  We are able to worship in the churches we choose, watch television which hasn't been government censored, marry the people we choose.  The United States is a land of opportunity, a land where we are free to pursue our American Dream, a land where anything is possible.  Let's make sure we don't forget those who gave their blood so that we could enjoy this land of freedom.

I think Memorial Day is also a great opportunity for us to remember that Jesus Christ also shed his blood so that we could enjoy a life of freedom.  Jesus didn't die so that we could enjoy freedom of speech or the right to a trial by jury...Jesus died so that we could be free to live in the love of God.  The blood that Jesus shed for us on the cross destroyed the power that sin and death have over us, preventing anything from separating us from the love of God.  We have been freed by the blood of Christ.

"To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, who has made us into a kingdom, priests for his God and Father, to Him be glory and power forever. Amen."
-Revelation 1:5-6

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Katy Perry - "Part of Me"

I'm a pretty big Katy Perry fan myself, and I have to admit this song is one of my favorites.  Not only is it super catchy but it's packed with emotion.  It gives us a glimpse into how much pain has been left in her heart following her divorce with Russell Brand.  So much has been taken from her that she could never get back.  She says in the first verse "You took my light, you drained me down."  What a terribly painful this experience must have been for her.

Regardless of whether or not you like Katy Perry as a person, I think that we can all say we've had experiences which took our light and drained us down, times when life seems totally unfair, when it seems like everything is working completely against us...enduring the death of a loved one, getting laid off from work, getting past a difficult breakup, failing an important exam...sometimes life just seems impossibly hopeless, like it's trying to break us down and tear us apart.  We all go through moments like this, but I love the message behind the refrain of this song which suggests that no matter what life throws at us, it cannot totally defeat us...

"This is the part of me that you're never gonna ever break away from me, no.  This is the part of me that you're never gonna ever break away from me, no.  Throw your sticks and your stones, throw your bombs and your blows, but you're not gonna break my soul. This is the part of me that you're never gonna ever take away from me, no."

No matter what life throws at us, we need to remember that nothing at all can take away the love of God that lives within us.  "Life" can take away our possessions, security, peace of mind, even our loved ones, but it can never take away God's love from us.  Why is that?  Because we are so sure of our faith and are trying so hard to love God with our lives? No.  The reason why the love of God within us is so unbelievably strong, unbreakable even, is because God loves us.  Nothing we do could ever stop God from loving us, He proved this to us when he died on the cross for us rather than try to risk spending an eternity without us!  We read very clearly in 1 John:9-10 "In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only son into the world so that we might have life through him.  In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent his son as expiation for our sins."  Nothing could ever stop God from loving us, nothing could ever take that away from us...God loves us too much to ever let us get away.  

"Heavenly Father, thank you for loving me as much as you do.  Help me to better appreciate what a treasure my relationship with you really is.  Guide me during my darkest moments to see the light of your love that burns within me."

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Avengers - I've Got Your Back

I finally saw The Avengers today and I definitely wasn't disappointed!  It didn't take very long for me to fall in love with one of the highest grossing movies of all time.  Everything from the amazing characters and actors, to the intense and suspenseful plot, and even the moments of witty humor combined to make this, in my humble opinion, an incredible movie!

The main premise of the movie is that by putting together all of Earth's most amazing superheros into an epic team called "The Avengers", Earth would be prepared to tackle the potentially dangerous forces of the universe, such as Loki, when they threaten the safety of our planet.  In this movie we see Ironman, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Black Widow, and Hawkeye team up to defeat Loki and save the human race.

As amazing as they are, these guys make a pretty strange team.  They spend a good part of the first half of the movie arguing with each other.  Thor battles Ironman, Ironman and Captain America bicker constantly, Thor fights the Hulk in an attempt to control the Hulk's rage, they can't seem to agree on very much.  They aren't the perfect team, they aren't even really best of friends, but when they combine their forces they are literally able to do the impossible.

This movie can be seen as a beautiful example of the importance of teamwork, showing that if we pool our gifts and talents we can accomplish so much.  However, I want to look at it in a different way.  For me, The Avengers is a perfect example of our very real need to accept help from others when we are most in need.  Watching this movie I couldn't help but notice countless moments where one of these characters showed up just in time to save another who was in desperate need.  This happens over and over throughout the movie with all the characters, but the instance which struck me the most was when Captain America saved Ironman on the helicarrier.  The only way to fix the helicarrier's broken engine (and save everyone aboard) was for Ironman to get inside the giant fan and get in running again.  However, this would mean risking getting shred into pieces by the fan itself unless Captain America could pull the lever to temporarily slow down the fan speed in time for Ironman to escape the fan's blades.  In an epic scene, Captain America gets to the lever just moments before Ironman is killed, and Ironman returns the favor by taking out an enemy who was trying to kill Captain America the whole time.  It was such a fast, but awesome scene, as these two characters saved each other's lives, as well as everyone aboard the helicarrier!

Stepping back, I was really touched seeing how as each of these characters faced moments of real danger and vulnerability someone was there for them.  Had either Ironman or Captain America tried to face this scene alone they would have failed miserably and died.  Fortunately for them, they never had to face this battle by themselves.  Someone was there for them to pick them up, to rescue them when they were most in danger.  This happens repeatedly to all the different characters throughout the movie.  Just when someone is in real danger, someone else shows up just in time to help them, to protect them, to save them.

I think sometimes it's hard for us to accept help, even when we really need it.  Sometimes it could be about pride, we don't want to admit how much we need help which would show our weakness, or maybe because we don't want to burden the ones we love with our problems.  Regardless, I think this movie made me think about how loved we really are.  When we need help, God's grace provides it, sometimes in ways we never would have thought possible.  Our task is to accept that help, to allow the grace of God to pick us up, to help us, to protect us, to save us.

Think about a time in your life where you felt in danger, vulnerable, defeated.  Who are the angels that God sent to you?  God loves us too much to let us face these dark moments by ourselves.  How much do we believe in that amazing love of God?  How much do we believe in the love that our family and friends have for us?  How amazing is it that God doesn't let us endure such difficulties on our own, but sends us angels to be by our side...