The Power of Prayer: Notes on 1 Samuel 1

The bible tells many stories that contribute to one main theme, and that is God’s faithfulness and Grace towards His people, and how he uses the ordinary man to accomplish His Will.

We see how the Lord used Noah to re-establish the world after the great flood, how he used Abraham to establish His people, how he used Moses to free them from Egypt, and how he used the prophets to bring back a wayward people into the folds of God once again. However, the largest example of this is how Christ came to bear the weight of sin for all of the world.

But we still have problems trusting in His faithfulness.  We still draw a distinction between the God that we see all across Scripture, and the God of 2014.  And while we know that the prosperity Gospel is a farce, and that God may put us through suffering to build endurance (James 1:2-4), we go to the other extreme which is to say that God may not answer our needs at all.  This leads us to question the power of prayer.

I admit that I have had a hard time believing that God would provide me with a job that would provide for myself, and my wife when I am married.  I have lost sleep and worried in anxiety over this one problem in my life because it was not just myself who I had to worry about.  And I still do not have a job confirmed, but I have been attaining more interviews.  However, my fiance never lost hope. She has always reminded me to pray, always been there for me, and she has always reminded me of God’s faithfulness. She is a blessing.

And so we come to the true content of this post, which is on 1 Samuel 1, which you can read by Clicking Here.

Summary

In order to understand the situation, we have to understand the context.  Hannah is one of TWO wives of Elkanah, and Hannah is barren, while Peninnah has bore her husband children already.  In that culture, barrenness was shameful because a woman’s identity and worth were wrapped up in her ability to bear children, which is why Peninnah taunts Hannah year in and year out.  And so Hannah is upset at this, and she blames herself,  even when when her husband tells her that he loves her, while no mention is given of the husband telling the other wife that he loves her as well.

And so, on the annual trip to the temple to worship and to sacrifice, Hannah pleaded with the Lord to give her a son, and that if he would give her a son, that Hannah would offer that son to the temple to serve the Lord for all of his days.

When Hannah and her husband returned to their home after the trip, he made love to her, and whether or not he knew of her prayer to the Lord, at that time, is unknown

Lo and behold, the woman who was barren for all of her life is now bearing a child.  Imagine the joy that Hannah and her husband felt; for although the husband had children from his other wife, Hannah was the one who he loved.

After the child had been weaned, Hannah took the child to the temple to give to the priest to raise him in the house of the Lord, whom her son would serve for all of his days.

Observation

There are a few points that one could make through using this chapter.  A point could be made for a biblical marital Love, in how Elkanah loved Hannah for who she was, and not what she could give him.  Another point could be made about how God performed a miracle in making a barren womb bear a child.  However, the last point is not the full picture: God did not HAVE to grant her request, and her Request was not even a dire Need.

The Lord answered Hannah, not out of necessity, for her husband had other children, but because Hannah was faithful, had pled to the Lord, and had offered herself, and her future son, up to Him, and the Lord willed for it to happen.  And The Lord used her son to be a monumental prophet in the Old Testament narrative.

The Lord knows the Desires of our heart.  He knew the desire of Adam for a companion, so he made Eve.  He knew the desire of the lame man, so He healed him.  However, this is not to say that all of our desires will be fulfilled; for God is not a cosmic gum-ball machine that gives us what we want as long as we pay our dues.  But those things that are within the Will of God, those desires of your Heart, God will fulfill.

But the theme of this passage, of God being faithful and full of Grace, does not stop there with prayer; it extends to explaining to us that having faith is not easy, and that it can be very difficult, but God has never ceased his unending faithfulness. His steadfast love endures forever! I join the psalmist in saying in wonder,  “who is man that you should care for him?”(Psalm 8:4)

Application

Do you pray to the Lord like you know he is listening?

It is easy to be skeptical, but the Lord has shown us time and time again throughout Scripture that Prayer is important for our faith, and that he does answer it.

Do you carry everything to God in prayer?

All of your worries, doubts, concerns, praises, accomplishments…have you prayed to the Lord about them? Have you thanked him?

God is, and always has been faithful.  It is foolish to say that His faithfulness and activity in his people’s lives has decreased over the years.  Does this mean that God will speak to you, or use you to bring His people back to Himself?  It is possible, but it is unlikely; think of how many people spanned the time of the Bible, and how few have ever spoken with God, seen him, used in a monumental way, or seen visions.  But His faithfulness to us remains steadfast, even if our perception of Him is not as clear as it was to moses when he saw the burning bush.

Pray and seek out the Lord. He is willing and able to listen.

-Jon

As always, let me know what you think in the Comments, and please follow my blog if you are a newcomer! Take a look around to see my other writings while you are here.

 

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The Pathway To God’s Presence: Book Review

I am a Christian, and have been a Christian since I was a young child.  But as the case with many, it was not always a perfect story; I didn’t simply nod as the preacher spoke and went on my merry way.  I’ve wrestled with doubts, some as big as they come, and I have waded through despair, and misery, in my desperate search for Truth.  I have cried tears of woe as I stared into the depths of my soul, seeking God’s guidance even when I was not sure if the God that I had always worshipped existed.

So when I am speaking with someone who does not believe in God, and when they may think that I have never thought about the hard questions, I can assure them that I have thought extensively about my doubts, and I have felt the dark of hopelessness wrap around my faith hanging by a thread. And that is why I want to tell them about the faith that I have revisited; a faith that has lasted throughout my lifetime amidst times when I doubted its substance. You can read about this time in my life Here, and my recovery, Here.

Although I have recovered from the specific doubts that I had at that time, it took me a long time to really sense God’s presence back in my life like I felt it at all of those youth events, retreats, and missions trips, or at times when I was simply at a “better place”.  And it is still something that I pursue wholeheartedly; not that God has ever left me, for His Spirit abides in us throughout our life after our conversion, but that I had lost a Sense of His Presence, and that I always want to pursue Him.

How to regain that Sense of God’s Presence is what “The Pathway to God’s Presence” by Tom Elliff is written about. The book was published by CLC Publications in Ft. Washington, PA.  Printed in the USA.

Summary

The title of the book reflects the theme; searching for God’s Presence.  Elliff takes the reader through various stages of recognizing a lost sense of God’s presence, our reaction to that lost sense, and what we are to do to when we find ourselves there.  The author illustrates his point through referencing the story of Moses speaking with God on the mountain, when at the same time, the people of Israel are making an idol out of Gold because they lost their sense of the True God’s presence.

Elliff makes several key points in his book about how to regain your sense of God’s Presence, and those are found in chapters 5 & 6 predominantly, starting with the importance of prayer, and going into three C’s: Communion, Conflict (wrestling with the Lord), and Conformity.

Review 

As someone who has struggled with doubt, and as someone who has been in tears, many times, wondering where my passion for the Lord, and my awareness of His Presence has gone, this book has renewed my mind with that fact that this walk of faith that we are all on needs our attention, and immediate action.  When our lives are busy, and we can’t seem to find time to spend with the Lord, we need to realize that we DO have time, but we are not seeing spending time with the Lord as important enough to us. This NEEDS a change because He is the foundation of our being, and we are Called to seek Him, and Love others.  But how can we do this if we tell God, “I’m too Busy, try tomorrow, next week, or even next month”?  We NEED God, and we NEED a sense of His presence to guide us.

The positives that I see from this book is that the author really takes you on a practical walk through on how to notice and address the issue.  He breaks a lot of his chapters down into sub-section lists that are very helpful for the organization of the book, as well as the reader’s thought process.

The negatives would be that by the way that the author words some of his points, it makes it seem like he is saying something that would not be accurate to his beliefs.  For instance, on page 26, the author writes “The glory of God will be removed from your life any time you are unwilling to come to terms with Him regarding any known sin”.  In that quote, it would seem that the author is suggesting that the Holy Spirit would remove himself from us based on our unfaithfulness; which we know is simply unorthodox (not within Church tradition). But we also know that this was not what the author was trying to say because on page 75, after he quotes Duncan Campbell, he explains the quote by saying, “it was not that he felt he had lost his salvation, but rather there was a dryness, a lost sense of the presence of God”.

To get a better sense on his intent, watch the book trailer by Clicking Here

That being said, I know what he was trying to say, but Semantics is a BIG deal when it comes to discussing theology. And so I would caution the author on that. The author also makes various points about God not using someone in unrepentant sin (pg. 26, 28). Though the Lord commands us to repent, the Lord can call anyone, and change their heart.  However, I do not want to dock my rating of the book based on a different understanding of the Scriptures that is not a cut and dry issue on either side.

As far as the physical book quality:  The binding is tight, no pages are loose, the cover is attractive, the pages are thick and are easy to flip through, and the book was published and printed in the USA. CLC Publications produces just as quality books as larger publishing houses do.

Favorite Quotations

“If your attitude is that the presence of God should be sought after you have tended to an endless list of other responsibilities, Satan will insure that your list will grow increasingly longer. A lost sense of God’s presence signals that it is time for immediate action” – Pg. 67-68

A prayer that the author suggested praying to the Lord:

“Lord, I know I’ve lost the sense of Your presence.  I can’t seem to will myself back into a more spiritual state.  I’m both confused and helpless, and it’s in this state of distress that I call upon You” – Pg. 70

“Hours of study, doctrinal orthodoxy, feverish religious activity and compassionate ministry to others are each commendable, but they cannot take the place of knowing God” – Pg. 89

“It is the presence of God you should desire more than all else.  It is worth searching for.  It is worth staying in the search until you find it.  And once God blesses you with the restoration of His glory, it is worth going on in such a fashion that you have both the vital and visible signs that He is with you”. – Pg. 133

Recommendation

Yes/No: Yes, it is a book that would help someone if they find themselves dealing with this issue.

For Who: Individuals.  When you are dealing with these personal issues, although having a supportive and praying friend is helpful, as the book affirms, doing this book in a group setting would not be proper because those who deal with this issue will not receive the proper one-on-one attention that they would need from a mentor, or a good friend.

Ranking 1-10:  8  

Explanation of ranking:  Overall, the book is helpful, and it makes a lot of good points, but the wording is something that would be confusing to the reader, and it is possibly misrepresenting the author’s actual views, from what I can tell.

Closing

Right now, in the month of April 2014, this book is on sale for only $7.50, Plus shipping.

For $7.50, you can purchase a book that is written to address the issue of losing that “new” feeling of faith that may be lost.

Please SHARE this blogpost to your own blogs, and your social media sites if you would like to.  Also, please COMMENT and let me know what you think!

-Jon

Links

Book Trailer: Click Here

Purchase the book: Click Here

Author’s website: Click Here

Links for the Publisher – CLC:

Website: Click Here

Facebook Page: Click Here

Twitter Page: Click Here

Pinterest Page: Click Here

Sacred Marriage: Book Review

***This blog will mainly become inactive, to follow my new blog, please visit www.lambtheology.com***

To those who know me personally, you probably know, but to those who do not, some big news recently happened for me: I am now engaged to my girlfriend- now fiancee.  Being 22 years old, this was not just “something to do”, but was completely intentional. It frankly is not “normal” for a 22 year old guy to desire to “settle down” and get married this young.  But it has always been my desire to find whom I would marry, and once I found her, well, why wait pointlessly when I know that I desire to be with her, and serve her, for the rest of my life?

But it wasn’t easy. And I did not make the decision lightly. I listened to many sermons on marriage, some being good, some being less than desirable, but the most benefitting wisdom came from listening to Paul Washer.  But I wanted more than just an hour long sermon, or even a sermon series, I wanted something that I could chew and digest on my own time; something I could carry with me, and something that had sound biblical wisdom… I wanted to read a book on marriage. I wanted to overcome the apathy of my society by caring more about preparing for the marriage, than the wedding day.

And so, I started reading “Sacred Marriage” by Gary Thomas after having it recommended to me at Hackman’s Bible Bookstore. The book was published by Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan in the year 2000.

Summary

The full title for Thomas’ book is “Sacred Marriage: What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?”. The title provides a good summary of what Thomas writes about; his main points revolve around what God desires for marriage, and he provides illustrations of what that covenant of marriage looks like; providing examples from others, as well as from his own marriage.  The book tries to take the theological truths of marriage, and couple them with the application of those truths.  Thomas brings a lot of his points back to Scripture, as well as concepts learned through the Gospel message such as “Reconciliation”.

For couples and groups, Thomas provides questions based on each chapter in the back of the book.  In addition, he has also published several helps, including a participants guide, and a devotional.

Review

I loved this book because it was a good mix of theological truths, and practical application.  Through looking through the marriage book section, it seemed to be that there were a lot of books from the theological and applicational sides, but not as many that seemed to provide the mix that I desired from a marriage book.  “Sacred Marriage” fits that bill.

Thomas does a lot to deconstruct selfishness, and show how harmful it is in a marriage.  He pin points specific situations in which he, or those he knew, let their selfishness get the best of them.  He does this most convincingly in talking about reconciliation, and how it needs to be lived out in our lives. He impressed me by his strong stand against Divorce, while still recognizing the biblical allowances for it to happen.

But the author also talks about the harder issues; specifically on how being single has long been seen, and still is sometimes seen, as being more committed to God than being married, or pursuing marriage.

The only negative that I found within the book is that some chapters seem to have a more noticeable biblical tie than others.  However, I do not think it would be fair of me to let that impact my overall opinion of the book too much because the book was not written to define the biblical covenant of marriage, and all of its distinctives, but rather as a helpful, biblical, aid for couples, and those preparing for relationships.

Favorite Quotations:

On Reconciliation:

“Everything I am to say and do in my life is to be supportive of this gospel ministry of reconciliation, and that commitment begins by displaying reconciliation in my personal relationships, especially in my marriage” – Thomas, pg. 34

“This is a fallen world.  Let me repeat this: You will never find a spouse who is not affected in some way by the reality of the fall.  If you can’t respect THIS spouse because she is prone to certain weaknesses, you will never be able to respect ANY spouse” – Thomas, pg. 69

“If there is one thing young engaged couples need to hear, it’s that a good marriage is not something you find, it’s something you work for.  It takes struggle.  You must crucify your selfishness.  You must at time confront, and at other times confess.  The practice of forgiveness is essential” – Thomas, pg. 133

“Our faith can infuse a deadened or crippled marriage with meaning, purpose, and – in what we so graciously receive from God – fulfillment.  Christianity doesn’t leave us in an apathetic stupor – it raises us and our relationships from the dead!  It pours zest and strength and purpose into an otherwise wasted life” – Thomas, pg. 151

Recommendation

Yes/No:  Yes.  In fact, I already have.

For Who:

“Sacred Marriage” has become the book that I would recommend to any Christian I know who is married, engaged, in a relationship, or even someone who is single and desires a marriage relationship in the future.  I would recommend it because it has such a high view of God, putting him first in your relationship, and Thomas does a really good job of convicting the reader of even the “little things” that we do, or think, that could be harmful to our marriage.

This book would be great to do for counseling sessions, church small groups, or even as a book a youth group looks at when discussing what a God-honoring marriage is supposed to look like.  As a Youth Leader for several years, I have seen and heard of how churches talk about love and relationships, and honestly, most of the time its just “Don’t have sex until you are married”, and “Don’t get a divorce”, which are both true things, BUT more could be done in actually preparing our youth, and reminding our adults, about what true biblical love and marriage is supposed to look like.  Sacred Marriage would be a benefit for this cause.

And I highly recommend this book to you.

Please SHARE this blogpost to your own blogs, and your social media sites if you would like to.  Also, please COMMENT and let me know what you think!

-Jon

Links

To Buy the Book (and support a Christian Bookstore): Click Here

To learn more about the author: Click here for his website, Here for his facebook page

To learn more about the publisher: Click here for their website, Here for their facebook page

 

Our Response to Social Media: Response to “3 things to stop posting on social media”, and “The 5 most annoying FaceBook posts about getting engaged”

We all have frustrations in our lives, whether in our real lives, or in our online lives.  Remember those heated youtube, redditt, or facebook debates? Remember the drama between your friends in middle school? Well…this post is not addressing those things, but rather, it is addressing something far more pressing to our social media culture; something that goes without being checked, and is even championed as the “truth”.

I am talking about the general social media cultural shift that now gets annoyed when they see certain things from their friends on their newsfeed. No, these are not the political rants… But pictures of babies, families, married or single couples expressing their love publicly, people expressing their every emotion, and even certain engagement announcements can make people frustrated.

Here are two articles that best capture what I am addressing:

http://www.relevantmagazine.com/culture/tech/3-things-stop-posting-social-media#comment-399912

http://wittyandpretty.com/2013/05/31/the-friday-5-most-annoying-facebook-posts-about-being-engaged/

My idea of addressing this issue came before seeing the blogs and articles complaining about it; the articles that I saw just merely confirmed to me that it was an issue that was larger than my little society at college.  If you want to get more “into” reading this post, please read the above articles for yourselves before you read further.

I will start by addressing some of the societal norms that I have seen, some of which are addressed in the articles shared.

  • Frustration over excessive posting
    • This is one that I understand the frustration more, but at the same time, I wonder why it is such a frustration for so many
      • Proposed Solution: Just simply hide that person’s content from your newsfeed if it bothers you.  If they are a true friend, check up on them by going to their page every so often.  Save yourself from the frustration/anger in your heart.
  • Frustrations over overly emotional postings; where a person posts how they are feeling at any given moment.
    • This is the facebook friend that says “my day sucks” a few times a week for either a legitimate reason, or simply because one comparatively tiny thing happened that threw their day off.  A lot of people get frustrated over this because it seems unstable, and weak.
      • Analysis: If you are becoming frustrated by these postings, it means that you honestly do not truly care about what is going on in that person’s life.  Yes, they may be crying because of a “stupid” thing according to some, but if that is the case, than there is a legitimate emotional need/problem there, and complaining about them is showing your apathy towards finding a solution.
      • Solution: Ask them why things are bad, talk them through some things, or simply say, “I just prayed for you” to them on that status, or in a message.  When an individual is depressed, they will convince themselves that no one truly cares about them, so you may be adding to the problem.  And if you cannot handle that, you may have to hide them from your newsfeed.
  • Frustrations over Romantic Postings
    • This is the couple that posts “I love you” on eachother’s facebooks, or share status updates involving them.  Perhaps even the couple that posts pictures of themselves with one another, hugging, or kissing.  A lot of people get frustrated over this because they do not understand why a couple needs to express that so publicly, and perhaps deep down it bothers them because they may not have a significant other.  Trust me, I do not understand the kissing profile picture either, personally, but I wont complain about it.
      • Analysis: Personally, I try to keep the cutesy stuff on my facebook minimal between my long-time girlfriend and myself, but to be honest, this is partly due to my fear of being judged by others. When my friends post about their love of their significant other, as long as I approve of their relationship, I should rejoice over their Joy that they have.  To be honest, why would it concern others so much if a couple is expressing their love? It may be a problem within the observer…That they may be so negative because they judge others through the way that they would do things, they don’t understand the importance of the situation to that couple, or they may be jealous.  Is it odd if a couple has to say “I love you” on facebook every day? Yeah, maybe…but why does that concern me/you?
      • Solution: Rejoice in your friends joy. If you cannot do that, you may need to work on your compassion. Ask yourself why it frustrates you so much.  More likely than not, after you examine it, you may realize that your reasoning is minimal if not all together flawed.  Yes, it may be too much for YOU, but maybe they need to have that public affirmation, so they know that their friends who read their statuses, know that they love their significant other. And if there may be a legitimate concern over co-dependency/emotional instability, maybe you need to ask them some caring questions.
  • Frustrations over Cliche engagement statuses
    • Some people may post “My BFF just proposed”, “can’t wait to be future Mrs. Jane (fiance’s last name)”, I liked it so I put a ring on it, etc..  Other complain that it is too cliche, that its annoying to phrase it that way, or they doubt that the person who the person is marrying is truly their best friend.   The article about this above also talked about taking his last name, and stated that the person did not have to give up their last name.
      • Analysis: Really?  You are complaining about an engagement update??? Really? This is an expression of Love and commitment that should only happen once in a life time, and you want to rain on their well-deserved parade by complaining that you don’t like how they announced it?? I am a bit more harsh on this point because I honestly do not understand it.
      • Solution: It is their lives, not yours. If they are truly your friends, look past their cheesiness and just rejoice with them.
  • Frustrations over excessive baby photos/family photos
    • I am not even going to address this. You should know.

Concluding Statements: I am a Christian who tries to follow Jesus in my daily life. The majority of this article above was written to any audience of any creed.  But at this time, I would like to address the Christians who deal with these complaints brewing within them.  First off, I have been guilty, and probably will be guilty in the near future, over reacting negatively to these things.  Even the last one, I didn’t understand a baby photo every month, but I think i will have a better understanding when I am a parent.  Just guessing.

The fact is, Christ calls us to love one another and to correct hypocrisy (just read a Gospel account), and Paul instructs us in Romans 12:9-13 to love and unite and rejoice with our fellow believers.  He then goes on to tell us to love our enemies, and to overcome evil with good (12:14-21).  That being said, I would wager that complaining about our friends posts that may annoy us, but have no real ground, is not how the Christian should respond.  The Christian should address any problems that arise out of Love, and seek to find a solution, first looking inwardly and then looking outwardly.  For it was Christ who said, “First remove the plank out of your own eye so that you can see clearly the speck in your brother’s eye”(Matthew 7:5).

Even in these little things, these social media frustrations, Christians are failing to live out the love of Christ.

 

The Dream: A Revealed Purpose

In my last blog post, I challenged my readers to think about their priorities, their passions, and their dreams.  I also told them my own which I will restate:

“My priorities would be things that are most important to me, which would have to be my faith, my family, and my girlfriend; to be honest, a “career” to me is simply a way to allow a possible future family to exist…unless I find something I love.  My passions would be things that are at the root of my being, and/or things I get excited about, and they are helping people, building peace & community, and seeking to grow, spiritually.”

The thing is though, I can think of a career I would love.  Several actually. But there is one that hit me this past year that I can’t shake.   So what is that dream, you ask? I’ll get there.  But right now I want to lay out what led me to that dream.  Don’t worry, its just the next two paragraphs.

As I said before, I’m a Christian family man, and less focused on having a career where I make 6 figures but am rarely home.  As I have started to think more about getting married in the future, I realized how ridiculous a 9-5 (or more hours) job is.  You work most of your day because you (in my case) want to provide for your family, but your working takes a lot of time away from them.  There HAS to be a better way than that.  And with all that time working, that leads little time for ministry and faith growth unless I can do that at the workplace.

My passion is to help people. I am a people person.  And I can’t do that effectively by working a 9-5 at a company I am not passionate about.  I desire to be in the front of being able to help, and not the guy working for the guy, who works for the guy, that does more of the relational business things.  I am a youth pastor; I have been able to tell teenage boys an argument against sex before marriage that even made them say I had a point, so based on that event alone, I have some experience.

So where do my priorities and my passions intersect?

What if I could work with my wife in the future? What if my kids could grow up around us as well in that environment? What if I could help people, daily, and give them a place to come?  What if I could help tie families, friends, and even whole communities closer together?  What if I could help people deepen their relationship with the Lord? But for all of that to happen, I would probably have to be “the boss”, or at the very least have a lot of leeway as a manager..

So this is my idea:

I dream to own a coffee house. I like coffee, maybe even love it, but its not my “passion”.  However, through a coffee house, I could do my true passions, and give time to true priorities.  I also enjoy making things that people appreciate.

But the dream does not stop there.  The dream continues to include a coffee shop that operates as a community “hub”; a place people gather.  How often do you really feel comfortable to stay at a starbucks? Its too cold, too industrial…at least the ones I have been to.  What if you went to a coffee house that thrived with events like trivia night, open mic night, local bands, local artists work displayed..the typical great indie coffee shop stuff.  But there is more…

What if that coffee shop hosted a book club that read books that are popular that year? Like in the past year, The Hobbit, perhaps?  What if that same coffee shop also had a bible study?  These two clubs would meet on separate nights, but most likely, some members would come on other nights during the week.  A book club member, and a bible study member could come to the coffee shop on the same night to have a nice caramel Macchiato, and walk out with a new friend, who may have slightly different interests.  Community.

If the book club person is a Christian, the two Christians may have a nice talk on theology and/or Christian living, and possibly how the book the one guy is reading connects to the book the other guy is reading, and both could join the other club as well.  If the book club person is not a Christian, then the Bible study person has an opportunity of sharing they are part of a bible study, that bible study that would equip the person speaking on how to talk to people, share the gospel, and share the love of Christ.  At the end of the day, the non-Christian may have a Christian friend who is one of the few Christians they know, and/or of the few loving Christians they know. Community.

I could then talk to people about their lives, provide advice, or simply listen.  We would also have Christian support for us from the Bible study, as well as kind support from satisfied customers.

That’s the dream. To be an asset to a community. To blend Christian and secular culture, while retaining a common ground on being a family-friendly place to go.  A place not just open on weekend nights, or only geared towards youth (which those places have their place), but a place where all are welcome.  And a place that gives out free bibles to all who want and need one, as well as free soup to families or individuals in need…That’s what i want.

So how does that “dream” become a reality?

I have to practice my barista skills for sure…but there is more than that.  There is practical stuff like budgeting, strategic planning, market analysis, etc..

And guess who is doing a strategic plan for the company he is interning for? Yep. Experience.  I also drafted an estimated start-up capital needed spreadsheet, including an estimated 3 month advance in rent, as well as started brewing coffee and tea to sell in mason jars last year, making a website: http://www.baumanbrewers.webs.com.  I had/have a successful little business selling to college kids. Marketing and a good product will do that.

When is it (the big dream) going to happen?  I am shooting for 10 years or less from when I am 22 (next February, 2014).  I want to be young enough so that I can be with the business to see it grow, and financially suited enough to take the risk, or to find potential investors.

That’s my dream. And its a real dream. A dream that CAN happen. A dream that I am working towards, even now.   What is your dream?  What are you doing to work towards it?

-Jon

Dreams, Passions, and Visions

I apologize to my followers for not writing a blogpost for a while.  I guess I have been busy with my internship, as well as my personal life.  But today, I have a thought that I wish to share with you, and that is this:  Do not settle for mediocre, or average.

I’m not going to be like a post-modern parent and tell you that you can do anything you want to and that there is no such thing as failure, but I am going to tell you that there is validity in goal setting, and even dream setting.

Recently I have been reading a book called “Start.” by Jon Acuff.  He’s the guy who wrote a funny blog and book called “Stuff Christians Like”, the best selling book “Quitter”, as well as being a public speaker, working for Dave Ramsey.  You can see his blog here:  http://www.jonacuff.com/blog/

To be honest, I dislike most self-help books.  To me, the general feel I get from them is that they are composed of a lot of cliche sayings that really don’t get you anywhere; its all stuff that I would deem as “common sense”. But this book is different.  Instead of force-feeding you ridiculous advice and tasks that you know you would never do, it causes you to think about what matters to you; what your passion is, and what you can do to “Start” that passion in a real way in your life.

This blog was named “overcometheapathy” because it was made to discuss things that we need to move forward with, things we dismiss, or simply a place where I can invite you into my thinking so that you can overcome your apathy about seeking to know a person better.

So what I have learned from reading “Start.” is that I need to know what my priorities are, what my passions are, and how my priorities and passions collide to form goals (taken from chapter four of “Start.”)
My priorities would be things that are most important to me, which would have to be my faith, my family, and my girlfriend; to be honest, a “career” to me is simply a way to allow a possible future family to exist…unless I find something I love.  My passions would be things that are at the root of my being, and/or things I get excited about, and they are helping people, building peace & community, and seeking to grow, spiritually. But what about you?

Ask yourself these questions…
What are your priorities?  Things that you would regret not doing, or not being able to continue to do if you died tomorrow.

What are your Passions?  What do you LOVE to do? Things that you couldn’t stop doing.
How do these two items collide to form a dream? I have what I believe to be my answer…but I will leave you in suspense.

The purpose of this post is to get you to think about what your priorities are, what your passions are, and what you are doing with your time to give into each of them.  I highly recommend the book i mentioned, but if you don’t, at least get the point from my summary…START on your passions, your dreams, or as Acuff calls it, “your awesome”. What can YOU do, or continue doing, to make some of your passions and dreams a reality?

On War

  • From Jesus:

“Blessed are the peacemakers..” But,
“Do not repay evil for evil..” But,
“Turn the other cheek when an Evil man strikes you..” But,
“Love your enemies..” But,
“Pray for those who persecute you..” But,
“Blessed are the Peacemakers..” But,

  • From Paul:

“Bless those who persecute you..” But,
“Repay no one evil for evil..” But,
“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I   will repay, says the Lord…” But,

The above quotes are actual quotes from the Bible, specifically the New Testament.  I added the “But,” at the end of the quotes because these quotes are commonly brushed off by conservative evangelical Christians (In my experience).  To be clear, I want to start off my saying some things:

  • This post is not meant to “convince” you, but to cause you to think
  • I believe that God is the only one justified to take another human life, which is why he directly commanded the Israelites to go to war, gave specific instructions for punishment of sin, etc..
  • Yes, I’ve read Romans 13..But I’ve also read 12
  • I am not saying that political pacifism is biblical
  • I believe that, in certain instances, God works through the Government to carry out His wrath (via Romans 13)
  • Therefore, I understand that war happens, and I understand that for political reasons, sometimes it must take place, but I do not support war.  Read on for more.
  • I do not believe that the Christian should be involved in warfare (via Romans 12, and the Words of Christ)
  • I believe that the Israelites in the OT had complete right to go to war, as they were commanded by God to do so, and when they went to war apart from the will of God (like what Saul did), there were consequences.
  • Never once do you see an instance where Christ(during his time on earth), His disciples, or the early church in The book of Acts, retaliate, even in self-defense.
  • Christ is coming back, and will pour out the wrath of God, and will indeed kill the evil doers.

My answer to the question: “What if someone threatened your family?”

  • If someone broke into my house and threatened my family, I would do ANYTHING in my power to save them, but that does not mean I would feel right or justified in taking a life.

Biblical Nonresistance vs. Pacifism:

I usually claim to be a pacifist because growing up, being a pacifist simply meant to be non-violent/non-resistant. But the truth is that I am not a “pacifist” as some would understand the meaning of the word, but for the common understanding of the term in practical life, I just say that I am a pacifist.

The fact is that sometimes, our country may have no choice but to defend ourselves, and/or go to war.  And maybe some of the nation’s actions are done because the Lord is carrying out His wrath. And to be clear, God could work through ANY nation to carry out His wrath. But I have no way of knowing what is God’s wrath, and what is just Man’s doing, so I just stick to the opinion that a Christian should not be involved in warfare.

For if we go to war apart from the will of God, that’s murder.
If we sentence someone to death apart from the will of God, thats murder.

The fact is…If its God’s will, it will be done.  So I would rather not support, and not be envolved with war or the death penalty because I have no idea what instances are man’s will, and what are God’s.  And as far as God’s will goes, it will get done regardless, as stated before.

So what of Christian Soldiers?
– If a Christian had the same view I do, they would not be involved in warfare, so obviously, the ones who are in warfare are not doing anything in rebellion to the word of God, in their minds.  But I would still challenge them on taking the words of Christ, as well as Paul, seriously.

The reason I say “seriously” is that the quotes that I mentioned are generally brushed off by those in support of war and the Christian’s involvement in it.

I once heard it said that, What Jesus says about non-resistance is something we should strive for, but its not practical.

Lets carry that logic:
Not having pre-marital sex is something I should strive for…but its not really practical.

See how that logic fails?

“Support our troops”
I will respect them just as I respect anyone else. If they are in need, I will try to help them, just as I seek to do to others.  I will support them by not supporting wars that may get them killed, and leave their family behind.  I will respect them by not protesting against them.

So please, next time you look at Romans 13…read it in context of Romans 12.  Also, seek to take Christ’s words seriously.

And for all wondering, this is what I view a biblical interpretation of the passage where Christ tells His disciples to buy swords is:

http://holyspiritactivism.wordpress.com/2013/01/18/why-did-jesus-tell-the-disciples-to-buy-two-swords/

This is posted on my blog, as opposed to on facebook because I know it is a sensitive topic.  I know that others much smarter and more experienced than I have different opinions than myself.  But I have yet to hear a solid biblical argument from the other side, besides saying that the Israelites went to war in the Old testament; which as stated before, they were justified to do so because they were Directly commanded by God to do so.