Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Indescribability of God

I just started reading The Confessions by St. Augustine again (because I never finished it the first time) and I was amazed by how he tries to describe God and then says how his words come no where close to truly describing God. I'm going to share it with you because it is absolutely powerful. It's in Olde English because that's the way it was first translated, so I separated the parts for easier reading. I hope this impacts you as it did me.

The Confessions Book One Chapter Four

"What, therefore is my God? What, I ask, but the Lord God?
'For who is the Lord but the Lord himself, or who is God besides our God?'
Most high,
most excellent,
most potent,
most omnipotent;
most merciful and most just;
most secret and most truly present;
most beautiful and most strong;
stable, yet not supported;
unchangeable, yet changing all things;
never new, never old;
making all things new, yet bringing old age upon the proud, and yet they know it not;
always working, ever at rest;
gathering, yet needing nothing;
sustaining, pervading, and protecting;
creating, nourishing, and developing;
seeking, and yet possessing all things.
Thou dost love, but without passion;
art jealous, yet free from care;
dost repent without remorse;
art angry, yet remainest serene.
Thou changest thy ways, leaving thy plans unchanged;
thou recoverest what thou hast never really lost.
Thou art never in need but still thou dost rejoice at thy gains;
art never greedy, yet demandest dividends.
Men pay more than is required so that thou dost become a debtor;
yet who can possess anything at all which is not already thine?
Thou owest men nothing, yet payest out to them as if in debt to thy creature,
and when thou dost cancel debts thou losest nothing thereby.
Yet, O my God,
my life,
my holy Joy,
what is this that I have said?
What can any man say when he speaks of thee?
But woe to them that keep silence---since even those who say most are dumb."

(St. Augustine, 7-8).

Here's the citation so no one calls me out for plagiarism.

Augustine, St. The Confessions. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson, 2004. 7-8.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

New Post and Another New Job

So, it's been almost a year since my last post and it's been a crazy one. I have since got a new job at the same school. I am now an 8th grade science teacher. I'm so excited about it! I had so much fun being a substitute teacher at FMS and I'll have an even greater time in my own classroom teaching all of those students. The Lord is going to do amazing things this year!!!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

New Job!!!

Hey friends, I finally have a job for the fall. I'm going to be a long term substitute science teacher for Fairfield Middle School. A science teacher there is pregnant and will be going on maternity leave soon. Until that happens I will be one of the building subs. Please pray for me. This is not a situation that I envisioned. I need to pray about what the Lord wants me to do about Young Life. Please pray that God will show me where He wants me to be. Thanks everyone!!!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Christ and Christian Values in Harry Potter

So, I know that this is a touchy subject with some people, but I've been wanting to write about it for quite a long time. Right now, I find myself up at 4:00 AM in Hawai'i because I have not gotten used to the six hour time difference and I have a huge amount of sunburn on my back. On the way here I had about 12 hours of flying and layovers, in which I read the last 450 pages of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. This is the final book in the series and the best by far. So, I want to take a little while to discuss why I think Christ and His values permeate this book series despite the fact that it is filled with wizardry. IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THE BOOKS BOOKS, ESPECIALLY THE LAST ONE, AND YOU DON'T WANT THEM RUINED FOR YOU THEN I SUGGEST THAT YOU DON'T READ ON.

Wizardry in Harry Potter
This must be discussed first because it is the major stumbling stone for those who view Harry Potter to be evil. I want to first remind everyone that everything created by man will be full of sin. We are a sinful people and, therefore, cannot create anything purely good. As an example that has to do with wizardry and magic, the two greatest fantasy series were written with the expressed intent of sharing Christ with the world. These wonderful series are Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia. In LOTR, Gandalf the wizard is a Christ figure. He dies saving the others from a a monster called a Balrog and is brought back to life three days later. This isn't mentioned in the movies but is clearly written out in the books. As far as Narnia goes, Aslan the lion is the Christ figure. He dies in the place of of the sinful human boy Edmond and is resurrected later. When he comes back to life he tells the two human girls that the evil witch didn't understand the deep magic of the land of Narnia. That deep magic represents God's power. By no means am I saying that witchcraft is a good thing, but I do believe that God uses these types of things to represent truths about Himself. The Bible does express God's commands not to practice sorcery on many occasions. The practice of sorcery is almost always paired with two other sinful acts. These are the sacrifice of sons and daughters and the practice of divination (Deuteronomy 18:10, II. Kings 17:17). The first of these acts is viewed as appalling by the main characters of Harry Potter. Lord Voldemort, the most evil wizard to walk the earth, uses the Killing Curse on a lot people, including Harry's parents. This curse is the most illegal thing in the wizarding world. This shows that the loss of life by another person's hands is highly unacceptable, like it is in our culture. Secondly, divination (or fortune telling) is looked upon as a joke by most of the students in Harry Potter. Hermione, one of Harry's best friends, drops out of the class within the first week because she deems it as useless. Harry and his other best friend Ron make up everything they have to do for the class because they find it pointless as well. In the later books Harry talks to Dumbledore, headmaster of the school, and finds out that Dumbledore really doesn't like the class and wishes that it didn't have to be taught. So despite the fact that wizardry is used in Harry Potter the main things surrounding it are shunned by the characters of the series. Finally, I don't believe that these books are for kids. I would not let my children read these books until I deemed them of the age to understand that what they're reading about can't really happen. Also, there are a lot of things that younger children just aren't ready for, death being the main one.

Alright, sorry for the length of this but I love analyzing media and seeing how God portrays Himself in it. So, here is a list of great qualities and where to find them in the books.

1. The Battle Versus Good and Evil - This is by far the most predominant theme throughout the books. There are four "houses" in Hogwarts (the magical school) and two of these houses have been going at each other for centuries. Gryffindor, which is Harry's house, represents good and has the symbol of a lion (just like Aslan in Narnia). Slytherin, which is the house of Lord Voldemort and the rest of the bad guys, represents evil and has the symbol of a snake (just like Satan in the Garden of Eden). Throughout the books Harry and his friends have to battle evil and save the wizarding and Muggle (non-magical) worlds. In the second book, Chamber of Secrets, Harry battles and defeats a giant snake. Later in the books we find out that Voldemort has a pet snake that does his evil bidding. This clearly represents the battle of good versus evil, a battle in which all Christians are in. Many Christians fail to realize that we are at war with Satan over the souls of the people around us. Harry's battle against Voldemort has encouraged me to continue fighting in the battle God has called me to.

2. Self-sacrifice - The only reason Harry is alive is the fact that his mom sacrificed herself by standing in front of Voldemort to save Harry, who is one year old. Many people sacrifice themselves to save others in these books but the most important one is Harry. It's a long story but Harry finds out that a piece of Voldemort's soul is attached to his own and the only way Voldemort can be killed is if Harry lets Voldemort kill him. For the safety of all those around him Harry decides to sacrifice himself in order to kill Voldemort. His action is rewarded and he ends up passing out and regaining consciousness (a hint of a Christ figure?). We who are Christians need to have the same attitude. A lot of Christians today are worried about retirement plans and the future, when we aren't even guaranteed a future. "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." (Philippians 1:21). We need to live with this verse in mind. And let's not forget that it's Christ's sacrifice that allows us to be free from sin. If God calls you to die for Him are you willing to do it?

3. Love and Family - Harry's mom's sacrifice imprinted him with a deep magic that Voldemort doesn't know about, it's called love. It's God's love and sacrifice that saved us. The value of family is especially shown in the last book. During the final battle a couple of Voldemort's followers, the Malfoy's (who are Draco Malfoy's (the meanest student in the school) parents), stop fighting and actually save Harry's life because they are so worried about there son. They realize that their family and love are more important than the power and wealth that they could have achieved by staying with Lord Voldemort. Also, J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, took the time to tell us as an epilogue in the last book that Harry and Ginny (Ron's sister) got married, had kids; and Harry's best friends, Ron and Hermione, got married and had kids of there own.

4. Forgiveness - The two people Harry despised the most besides Voldemort were Draco Malfoy and Professor Severus Snape. In the sixth book Malfoy attempts to kill Dumbledore and Snape actually does kill him. Each person did horrible things to Harry but in the end Harry ends up forgiving both of them. Harry ends up saving Malfoy from certain death during the last battle. Harry is also able to look into Snape's memories after Snape dies and realizes that everything Snape did was for his protection. Harry is saddened by this realization but ends up naming his second son Albus (Dumbledore's first name) Severus Potter. Harry tells his son that he was named after the two greatest headmasters of Hogwarts and that Severus was the bravest person he ever knew. We should have the same ability to forgive the ones who wrong us. "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." (Matthew 6:14-15). That is a pretty challenging passage that all of us need to think about.

5. Repentance - Repentance is the act of turning away and heading in a new direction. During their final duel Harry gives Voldemort the chance to repent, just like Christ gives each of us the chance to repent. Unfortunately, Voldemort doesn't repent and is killed by his own Killing Curse. The amazing thing is that Harry actually offers the most evil wizard ever the chance to repent. God gives the same chance to the most evil people in the world. We, with our sinful minds, can't comprehend giving these evil doers a second chance. We must realize that we are all in the same boat, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23). The only way any of us can escape the clutches of sin is to put our faith in Christ and what His sacrifice for us on the cross.

Alright, I think I'm done for now. I've been writing for a good couple hours and I'm getting pretty tired. If I think of some more ways that God uses Harry Potter to show Himself an His values to us then I will blog some more. I'd love to hear your opinions, positive or negative, so please comment!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007


Let me tell you about a dream I had last night. I rarely remember my dreams, so when I do remember one I assume that God is trying to tell me something. So, I was in a church that I didn't recognize, but there were people there that I have grown up knowing. When I got to the pew I found myself holding a plate that had a few huge pancakes stacked on it and a little plastic cup of syrup. As I was standing up to sing I set the plate down and the cup of syrup started spilling onto the carpet. I immediately started bending down to clean it up while everyone else started singing. The problem was; it wouldn't stop pouring out. I was trying everything I could to wipe up the syrup, but nothing I did could clean it up. During my attempts to clean up the syrup my alarm went off and woke me up.

In no way do I call myself an interpreter of dreams, but I have a good idea of what God is telling me through this dream. Over the past two months or so, I haven't been doing that well. I've been really stressed and the sins of life have been dragging me down. I've been trying everything I could to wipe the sins out of my life. I have taken God out of the equation. I'm trying to do everything on my own. Instead of singing praises to the Lord with everyone else, I'm still trying to wipe up the syrup. Hebrews 12:1-2 tells us "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." (ESV). I've been trying my best to lay aside the weight and sin, but I forgot the only way that it's possible. I must look to Jesus instead of myself. I am prideful if I believe that I can do this on my own. Christ is the only One who can pull me out of my sin. I need to keep my eye on the prize, which is Jesus and NOT relief from my sin.

So, I guess my plea is that those of you who read this is that you please ask me if I'm always taking my sin back to the cross of Christ instead of trying to go it alone. Please also pray for me as I am going through this difficult struggle. Thank you so much my friends. Take care and God Bless!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Clean and Unclean

I've been reading through the laws of Leviticus and have been thinking about God's reasons for the laws He has for the Hebrews. Why does He say that some animals are clean and some animals that are unclean. It can't be just because He wants the Jews to eat healthy. I believe that I have found a clue as to what God's reasons could possibly be and I'd love to hear what you think.

Leviticus 20:25-26 gives us this clue: "You are therefore to make a distinction between the clean animal and the unclean, and between the unclean bird and the clean; and you shall not make yourselves detestable by animal or by bird or by anything that creeps on the ground, which I have separated for you as unclean. Thus you are to be holy to Me, for I the Lord am holy; and I have set you apart from the peoples to be Mine." (NASB). Just as God chose animals to be clean, He chose the Israelites to be His Chosen People. The rest of the people of the world weren't a part of this group, just like the rest of the animals were considered unclean for eating.

As we know now a person from any ethnic background, not just a Jewish background, can be a child of God as long as "you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead." (Romans 10:9, NIV). Is this shown in any references to clean and unclean animals? I believe it is. In Acts 10: 9-16 (it's too long to type, so I'll let you look it up) Peter is praying and falls into a trance. In the trance a giant sheet filled with many different types of animals came down from the sky. God tells Him to kill and eat, but Peter refuses because the animals, by Levitical law, are considered unclean. Then the Voice of his dream says "What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy." (Acts 10:15, NASB). I believe that this represents the fact that Gentiles can become part of God's Chosen People because "Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring [us] to God." (I. Peter 3:18a, NIV). Just like no animal is considered unclean anymore, any person from any nationality can be cleansed by Christ's precious blood.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

My Graduated Sister!

My sister Jennifer just graduated from BGSU yesterday! She is an amazing sister that is greater person than I could ever think about being. She has always been there whenever I might need her. I have loved seeing her grow in her faith in the Lord. Iwish I could spend more time talking about the wonderful woman that God has made my sister, but I must go to her graduation party. Jennifer, if you read this or if you never read this, it really doesn't matter): I love you! Keep following the Lord with everything you've got.