Pastor’s Kids (Abby’s Essay)

People have been asking me when I’m going to blog again, and I’m not sure. I haven’t intentionally stopped, really…just had so much other writing I had to do for awhile that I couldn’t, and now that that’s ended, just haven’t. I will get back to it sometime! In the meantime, both of my kids have been writing and I asked them if I could share their stuff here on my blog. This one is Abby’s. She had to write a paper in English class showing her voice and a role in culture. It makes me smile. Thought it might make you smile, too.

 

The Long Drive Home

Honestly, this is when these articles got really fun to write. Well, maybe not August, specifically, but these thru December that walk through the first few months of having a kid in college. Anyway, thinking about all my friends who are dropping their kids off for the first time this month. On a related note, Sonic has 1/2 price milkshakes every night after 8pm ūüôā

Go ahead and say it, you’re blessed

The brother of humble circumstances should boast in his exaltation, but the one who is rich should boast in his humiliation because he will pass away like a flower of the field. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and dries up the grass; its flower falls off, and its beautiful appearance is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will wither away while pursuing his activities. A man who endures trials is blessed, because when he passes the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him. No one undergoing a trial should say , ‚ÄúI am being tempted by God.‚ÄĚ For God is not tempted by evil, and He Himself doesn‚Äôt tempt anyone. But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death. Don‚Äôt be deceived, my dearly loved brothers. Every generous act and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights; with Him there is no variation or shadow cast by turning. By His own choice, He gave us a new birth by the message of truth so that we would be the firstfruits of His creatures.¬†James 1:9-18

Usually when people talk about being blessed, they’re talking about good circumstances. We might say “God has blessed me so much” when thinking about our jobs, relationships, or financial status. We might end an email or card with the closing, “Blessings,” right before we sign it to express our hope that things go well.

And we’re right. Those things are blessings. The problem is that we might start to think that if things aren’t going well, we somehow aren’t blessed. James wanted us to expand our understanding of the word.

The way to do that is to also understand some things about God. He isn’t concerned about wealth, because it’s temporary. His concern, instead, is that you endure whatever comes here on earth. Whether rich or poor in the things the world values doesn’t matter, because the new birth you have received through faith in Jesus means there’s a crown of life waiting at the end.

God is the giver of every good thing. He allows us to go through difficulties (the testing of our faith), but He does not tempt anyone. Today, right now, He is the same God who created the world and put people in it. Today, right now, He is the same God who promised to save us after sin entered the picture, and he is the same God who followed through when Jesus went to the cross.

He doesn’t change; not even one little bit.

So the person who drives a brand new car and the person whose car may not make it to work today are both blessed, because neither of those things will last. The person who gets the job and the person who doesn’t are both blessed. The person who posts pictures of her happy family on Instagram and Facebook and the person who grieves the loss of someone she meant to spend her whole life with are both blessed. The single person and the couple married 50 years…blessed.

James wasn’t trying to minimize your struggle, and neither am I. But, more than that, he didn’t want us to believe the lie that says that ease of life on earth is the end game. God’s desire for each of us is the same. The prize that awaits every believer is the same, too; we just go through different circumstances to get there.

Think differently today. In what ways are you blessed?

Appositive Identification (James 1:1)
No One’s Favorite Verse (James 1:2-4)
When you don’t want to do the right thing (James 1:5-8)

When you don’t want to do the right thing

Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him.  But let him ask in faith without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. An indecisive man is unstable in all his ways. James 1:5-8

Sometimes I don’t want to do the right thing.

I think know the right thing to do, most of the time, but the circumstance or trial James wrote about in verses 2-4 clouds my judgment. I’m too hurt, too mad. or too prideful in those moments.¬†In short, I lack wisdom.

Wisdom isn’t simply knowing the right thing to do, it’s choosing to do it when everything in you wants to do something else.

That God generously gives wisdom to all of us without criticism is a really fantastic piece of information we shouldn’t miss. God doesn’t scold us for our sadness, anger, or pride in those moments of trial; at least, not when we admit those things to Him and ask for His help. He doesn’t tell us to be joyful in trials (verse 2), and then leave us helpless to do it. Instead, He gives us wisdom, the key to making it happen.

God knows how hard it is. He knows all about the feelings that make us not want to do the right thing. Jesus faced those same temptations.

So when it comes to trials, God is far less concerned with your lack of wisdom than He is with your lack of faith. He doesn’t expect it to be easy for you to do the right thing; what He expects is for you to trust Him to help you do it. All you have to do is ask.

 

Appositive Identification (James 1:1)
No One’s Favorite Verse (James 1:2-4)

Christian movies that didn’t make the cut

Not needing any convincing or assurance that heaven is, indeed, for real, we went to see the movie this past weekend. I’m not writing today to weigh in on whether or not things really happened the way Todd Burpo says they did – partly because List Wednesday isn’t about that, but also because I don’t think it really matters all that much. If we agree that heaven is for real and God’s Son, Jesus, is the only way you can get there, then about the rest, we can agree with Phil. 1:18:¬†What does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice.¬†To that end, I can hope the movie causes people to read their Bibles and know and believe what it says over the teachings of any human being. I also hope God uses it to lead people to follow Jesus, who is in heaven preparing a place for us now that is certainly more wonderful than any book, movie, or imagination can ever portray (1 Cor. 2:9).

a-thief-in-the-night

Anyway, no matter what you think of the content, there’s little doubt the film-quality of faith-based movies has improved significantly in recent years. I mean, apart from A Thief in the Night (circa 1980 youth group lock-in where we all got saved or rededicated our lives to Jesus on the spot), these recent movies are impacting the masses in ways we haven’t seen before. Son of God, God’s Not Dead, and Heaven Is for Real¬†just came out, and they already hold spots 5, 6, and 7 in the top grossing Christian movies since 1980 (behind only The Passion of the Christ and the Chronicles of Narnia movies).

It’s awesome if you think about it. We’ve come a long way. To celebrate, here’s this week’s list.

Christian movies that didn’t make the cut:

Contagious. The back story of the man healed from leprosy.

Waterproof. After trying to walk on water, Peter arrives home with a ruined pair of sandals. His wife is furious, to say the least.

Purgatory Isn’t for Real. While on the operating table, a man dies and goes to Purgatory and finds it completely empty.

Crowd Surfer.  A youth minister trying too hard to be cool at a Family Force 5 concert.

Facing the Nuisance. A reality show that pits antagonistic church members against one another in a business meeting where trivial matters are discussed.

Left Behind. A closer look at the 3 days Jesus’ parents left him at church on accident.

To Save a Loaf. Everyone knows about the boy who gave Jesus his fish and bread to miraculously feed thousands, but what about the other kid who refused to give his up?

 

I’m sure I left some out. Feel free to contribute to the list in a comment.