Like I’ve said before, I love the manuscript study rotation, and I’m upset that it is over. I was only to make it to one of the two final weeks of the rotation, but most of what I’ll talk about is just what I’ve been thinking about over the course of time until a month ago where I was first introduced with the ideas of Open Theism (I had already known what Calvinism was).
One big thing that I have been thinking about that I think is interesting is that all of the verses to support Open Theism is in the Old Testament while all the verses to support Calvinism is in the New Testament. I don’t think it is much of a stretch to say that the writers of the Old Testament could have viewed God in a different manner than those of the New Testament who wrote all the books after their experiences with Jesus. This brings up a few questions though. If you are a Christian, you should believe the whole Bible, so what do you do with two opposing viewpoints where one of the viewpoints gets all of its evidence from one half of the Bible while the other viewpoint gets its evidence from the other half of the Bible? I personally haven’t been able to figure that out yet, which kind of bothers me. My first thoughts were that maybe since the New Testament writers actually experienced Jesus during his ministries on earth we should view God from their point of view as well (which would be a Calvinistic point of view). But you could then bring up the argument that most of the Calvinistic verses were written by Paul. It would make sense that he viewed his conversion as God choosing him specifically that one day on the road to Damascus and that if God didn’t choose him, there was no way he could have been saved. Without ignoring all of the good arguments to support Open Theism, I would probably lean more towards Calvinism for a few reasons. The first would be that since the writers in the New Testament had the Holy Spirit inside of them, it would make more sense that they were given revelations about God that people in the Old Testament couldn’t have received. Also, it could be possible that the Old Testament writers wrote, in human terms, what God did that cannot be properly explained in human terms. But honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if I get to Heaven and God explains the full truth and it was completely different than anything humans could comprehend or ever imagine.
One thing that I had to let go of recently was the idea that I couldn’t pick one hundred percent which one I believe. I was stuck in the place where I had my past beliefs but at the same time was trying to sort through the new ideas that I had heard. I was stuck because Mr. Wilson and Mrs. Johnson, who I know have a vast amount of theological knowledge, believed one thing and I believed another. I was stuck in the place where I felt like I had to believe both and I couldn’t decide which one I thought was better. But recently I realized that since it isn’t a salvation issue, I can pick one to believe for now so I can put my hope in God in one way and not have my hope be iffy because I don’t know whether God has set out a plan and path for my life that I have to follow or He is just walking with me letting me make my own decisions. So for now, I choose to believe more of an Arminianistic viewpoint, and if that changes over the years because God keeps revealing things to me, that is fine by me.
It’s a dark world out there.
Murder. Rape. Theft. Destruction. Devastation.
The light fills the day but darkness, the night. During the day our burdens seem momentary and light but a night they weigh heavy to our vandalized hearts. People seem to like darkness. They seem to want to hide their secrets in the deep depths that it provides. But why is darkness so prevalent in our lives that we focus on it so much? It seems like darkness quenches all the light around it. But can’t one match light up a whole room? What would happen if two matches were to come together? Tens? Hundreds? Thousands? A thousands matches could shine a light. A thousand of matches could shine an unquenchable light. A thousand matches could shine a light that even darkness couldn’t hide.
There are many types of light. The longest wavelength for a lightwave is about a thousand (1000) meters. The shortest wavelength for a lightwave is about a picometer (0.000000000001) meters. That means that the longest lightwave is one quadrillion (1,000,000,000,000,000) times bigger than the smallest light wave. The amount of light that we actually see, however, are the lightwaves with wavelengths from 380 nanometers (0.00000038) to 750 nanometers (0.00000075). That means that the amount of light we see is only about 0.00000000000037% of all the light that is out there. Jesus says, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life” (John 8:12). If you apply that to only the light that we see, that isn’t very impressive, because light seems to disappear at night. But if you apply that to the idea of the whole light spectrum, that is an amazing and indescribable statement and thought. The amount of light we actually see is minuscule compared to how much light is actually out there. If we could see all of the lightwaves with our eyes, darkness wouldn’t exist. When Jesus calls himself the light of the world, he is implying that, yes, there is a lot of light that we see, but there is unimaginably more that we don’t see. That’s the beauty of it though. In our lives we see miracles all the time if you look hard enough. Just imagine all the miracles that happen that we don’t see or don’t comprehend. Just imagine how much God is working in our lives when we don’t notice it.
Not only does Jesus call himself the light of the world, but he calls us the lights of the world as well. We are called to be the shining light to others. To love others. To encourage others. To build others up and not tear them down. One person could be the match that lights the whole room. One person can change a roomful of lives. Twelve people changed the world through Jesus’ anointing. Imagine what fifty people could do! Fifty people on fire and burning bright for Jesus could change the world four times over. All it takes is faith. Faith is the key that unlocks the potential energy that the fire inside of us stores. Lets go spark a fire inside the hearts of everyone around us. Lets set the example on how to live by truly living.
The First Throne
City of Domes, Home of St. Basil’s
Lovers of Ice Cream and the Star Of Russia
Snowy, dim, rugged
City with the Red Walls
They tell me you are rough and I believe them, for I have seen your dirty factory workers drinking their souls out outside the Metro.
And they tell me you are oppressed and I answer: Yes, it is true I have seen their compressed minds unable to solve simple problems.
And they tell me you are wild and my reply is: In the alleyways I have seen the teenagers suffocate themselves with nicotine.
And having answered so I turn again to those who smirk at this my city, and I smirk back at them saying:
Come and show me another city with smiles on their warm faces when the sun peers out through the dark clouds.
Grunting curse words as they partake in basketball court rap battles and as they earn their dinner as the humbling street cleaners
Triumphant in their scrappiness to survive amid the devastating winters to their prideful nationalism,
Watching, believing, spying,
Under the Domes, praise on his lips, hoping with a heart of despair,
Under the terrible weight of expectations hoping as a young man dreams,
Hoping even as a man born blind hopes to see again,
Grinning and hoping that his impact will be as big as the Kremlin, and his life as meaningful as St. Basil’s Cathedral,
Hoping the snowy, dim, rugged hope of the Weathered, half-drunk, determined, thrilled to be The First Throne, City of Domes, Home of St. Basil’s, Lovers of Ice Cream and The Star Of Russia.
Aaron and his wife Megan have led an awesome spiritual disciplines rotation so far. We have talked about the need for having a high and good character and at the same time being very competent. I personally, in my humble opinion, believe that I have a pretty good character. I’m not perfect but I feel like I care about people and other’s needs a lot more than my own, most of the time. Going along with that, I wouldn’t say that I am incompetent, because that would be a lie. However, I don’t feel like I have mastered anything yet. I am a solid student, and a decent athlete. I believe that God has called me to work with people more so than at a specific job or expertise. I don’t know exactly what that looks like yet but I know that God is working and building me up for me own good in my life right now.
We also talked a lot about identity—spiritual and personal. We talked about how identity is not a creation but a discovery and how it is your personal view of yourself. I have learned that my spiritual and personal identities are very similar because I find my identity in Christ, and in what he says I am. I have asked God multiple time what he sees me as and I have always gotten this word back: encourager. I feel like that is what God calls me and so I really try my best to be as encouraging and uplifting as possible with everyone around me. It also came up in discussion that we should doubt our doubts before we doubt our faith, and I really liked that a lot. I need to remember to doubt any negative thought I have instead of letting it make a way for more doubt to seep into my thoughts.
This last rotation was manuscript study for me and I liked it just as much as last time. In this rotation we talked about a few major things. The first thing was that we debated over whether or not war and violence was okay because it talked about how we should love our enemies as ourselves. I personally think violence is only okay if God commands it like in the Old Testament when he told the Israelites to go and attack specific nations, or when you are defending yourself or the people you are responsible for. Now if someone hits me, I don’t have the right to hit him or her back, but I am able to protect myself from being hit. The same goes with war. I don’t think that we should start any battles or wars because we don’t like a specific nation, but I think if another country starts bombing us or killing our people, we have the right to go in and save and protect ourselves. And as long as it is necessary to attack or harm the other group of people, I think it is okay to do so if you are protecting yourself or your people. Now obviously all of what you do has to be according to what God tells you to do. If someone is attacking you and you feel like God doesn’t want you to attack him or her back or anything like that, I completely agree that you should listen to God and not attack. But if someone were to say that violence is bad and sinful, I would disagree because God had told his people to attack and start wars with specific nations. He did however also tell them not to attack specific nations. He knows what is best for us through it all. We also talked about if God picked sides or not. I think that there is God’s side, and not God’s side, if that makes sense. You are either with God or against him in your everyday life. Some nations are either following him or not.
The second thing we sort of touched on but what I liked a lot was talking about how it says “but you are perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” This just helped remind me that no matter how much I sin, I am still forgiven and I still have a clean slate from all of it because of what Christ did on the cross for me. I am so thankful for that. It also helps motivate me to strive for complete perfection, even though it is impossible without God. It gives me the mindset that if I work hard at being the best Jeremy I can be, then I am doing my best to actually be like Jesus. And if I can be like Jesus I can be a lot more influential to the people around me than if I am constantly living in sin and am not sorry about it. I personally think that we are completely able to not give into temptation and to not sin, but our heart has to want it as well. We have to get to a point in our lives to where we can honestly say that we don’t want to sin because we trust what God commands us to do. It is hard to get there but I don’t think its impossible.
In this leadership rotation we were read two short parables that were pretty interesting. The first one was about a man who decided to start on his journey in life, but got asked to hold someone up and got stuck in the situation with no way out. I got two things from the story. First, the person that is holding us down and keeping us from our life’s calling might be ourselves. We might do things to procrastinate or hold ourselves back from accomplishing the thing we were called out to do. I learned that we have to just go for it in life, trusting God that things will work out for the best no matter what struggle comes our way. The other thing I got out of the story was that sometimes we might be dependent on someone else to hold us up and by doing that we are also holding them back from the thing God called them to do. So we need to be independent in a way to make sure that we aren’t keeping others from going out and living their life. Now that doesn’t mean we can’t live beside them and journey with them.
The next short parable was about the man whose nerve ending grew out of his skin. He grew up around people who would take care of him and always let him get his way in life because they were afraid of him and because they didn’t want to hurt him since the nerve endings were sensitive. This man ended up getting married, and his wife loved him a lot. But after a while she started to get sick because it was extremely hard to care for her husband in all his needs. She went to a doctor and to her family to ask for advice for what to do, and they just suggested she fight through the hard times because her husband was a special case and was sensitive. It wasn’t until she saw a runt of a little of cats being shown tough love by its mother that she realized that sometimes babying someone isn’t the best way, but rather to help them grow the most we might need to be forceful in some way. So she went home and ended up stomping on her husbands nerve endings, and the next morning they had gone back into his skin. From this I learned that we have to show and receive tough love sometimes to be able to grow and mature faster than if we just were given everything we ask for. I think God does this a lot in our lives when we ask for things that we want but don’t need. He refrains from giving us things or answering our prayers sometimes because he knows what we actually need more than what we think we need.
The first week of this rotation was awesome. Mrs. Keyes came in and talked about hearing from God. She talked about how our situation with God isn’t just a one sided thing. It isn’t just God telling me to do things or it isn’t just me asking God for things, but there is a relationship. There needs to be communication between God and I. God speaks to us and he wants to give us good gifts, and all we have to do is ask. We also have to learn how to decipher between what is God and what is our own voice, or even Satan trying to mess with us. I learned that there are many ways to hear from God, and that everyone is different in it. Some people hear from God through the Bible, others dream dreams or see visions, and some people even hear God speak to them. God made us all perfectly so I learned that whatever way he speaks to us, that is how we are supposed to hear from him. I do think he can speak to us in multiple ways though. Most of the times for me, I just pray, “God what do I need to read” and a lot of times I will just think about a specific book in the Bible and the verse numbers. Then I will turn to the place I thought I heard and I just like to explore. If it doesn’t really mean anything to me I will just flip through and try to find something that does impact me especially in that moment. The coolest thing about this rotation though was the “game” we played at the end of the class. Mrs. Keyes had everyone close their eyes and she went around and taped on someone’s shoulder, and she told us to ask God for something that the person picked needed to hear or just anything in general. Since we didn’t know who the person was, it was a good chance to hear from God and not just think of something that we already knew the person was struggling with (if we knew who it was). So I started to pray and I just felt like I heard the name Abby, so I wrote it down since Abby Gipson was sitting at the table, and then asked God what I needed to write about for her. The verse that talks about how the Lord will bless you and keep you and shine his face upon you came to my mind so I just wrote that down. At the end of the few minutes, Mrs. Keyes asked if anyone wanted to share what he or she wrote down with the group. I was too scared to say what I had written because I didn’t want to take the high risk of getting the wrong person. But at the end of the sharing time, she asked the person she picked to raise her hand, and it was Abby. That honestly increased my faith so much because I realized that talking to God and hearing from God isn’t something that only super spiritual people can do, but that anyone can do if they have to Holy Spirit inside of them. It was also a good example for the people around me because I was too excited to not tell anyone about what had just happened with me. The people around me were shocked but God is so amazing and I wanted others to see that too.
The second week wasn’t as good as the first week of this rotation, but only because of how awesome the first week was. In the second week we learned about pride and humility. I learned that in order to fight pride, we first must identify it. There are three types of pride, vanity, stubbornness, and exclusion, and we have be able to recognize if there is pride in our hearts and lives before we can get rid of it. If we are going about prideful, and don’t see it, how will we ever change? I think the biggest pride I struggle with is vanity. I have gotten a lot better with it, but I used to be very occupied with my self-image and it was a big part of who I was. Even though no one could tell, I was very focused on making sure I looked good and all of that. I have gotten to a point now where I have accepted who I am and have just said to myself, “Who cares how other people think I look, because I know I am perfect in God’s eyes.” I am also sometimes stubborn but I have also learned to accept criticism to strive to be better in all aspects. I have learned to say that I am wrong when I am, just because I don’t like conflict. I don’t see the point in arguing about something that I know I am wrong about. So overall, I found this spiritual discipline rotation really good, and I wish we had another week to do it.