Saturday, April 21, 2012


Just saw that my last post was the big 1-0-0 for NR.
That's freakin AWESOME
Thanks to those of you for reading and sticking with me! You're the best!
just kidding

A dog, a mouse, and an apostle

I love my dog. Bailey is the coolest animal ever. She is also the dumbest.I have full reason to believe that she is the animal equivalent of being intellectually disabled. (Look at me go, two posts in a row that have elementary education terminology. Boom.) Bailey runs into walls and then backs up, looking at it like it just appeared right in her way. She barks at things that don't exist for hours. She also enjoys grocery shopping in the neighbors' garbage and bringing home treats, such as this bread, and burying it so well right in our front flower garden. 
As I've been writing this today, she also stole something like three pieces of pizza from the stove without making a sound. 
And, most recently, she hunts for imaginary mice.
About a week ago, my mom was feeding Bay in the garage downstairs. Cool Breeze and I were in the living room watching TV - probably the Big Bang Theory, knowing us - when we heard this huge shriek coming from the garage. I got up and looked in to see my mom dancing around Bailey, who had a mouse trapped on her bed. Somehow, she had found a mouse behind her food container and snapped it up lightning fast. Since then, she's been bound and determined that there are more mice to be found in the garage. While this is probably true, we have yet to see one.
Her favorite lookout spot right now is in one corner of the garage, staring straight into the wall. She's been sitting there, laying there, and sleeping there for a few days in a row. My dad enjoys messing with her and going on the other side of the wall and scratching around where she is. It's driving her nuts, and it's pretty funny. Today I sprayed some dog repellent stuff in an attempt to get her away. She's been sitting at the same spot for 3 days, and she's started to gnaw on a piece of wood in the wall in an attempt to get at what's behind it - which, obviously, is just drywall and nothing else. This was about an hour or two ago. I just went downstairs and what do I see? Her sitting right at the wall, nose buried in the heart of the smell, still bound and determined to stick it out and find that mouse. I hope for her sake there is one so she can gain some intelligence back. Otherwise, she's quickly dropping down in points. The fumes from the dog repellent can't be helping her either.
Even though she's not the brightest crayon in the box, she still is pretty determined to get her work done. Her methods may not be the most orthodox, and they may not win points for intellect, but she's determined. 
Her spirit reminds me of a person from the New Testament who shared the same dogged (pun possibly intended) determination to finish what needed done. 
My favorite book in the Bible, written by this man, is Philippians. Even though it's only 4 chapters, it's full of some of the best information and knowledge that the entire Bible contains, in my opinion. Paul, before Jesus, was Saul - persecuting Christians to his hearts content and living out the old law. Then, one day, his world was rocked once he had a true God encounter which converted him. He went from determinedly pursuing to persecute Christians to determinedly pursuing to win people to Christ. Talk about a life change.
In Philippians chapter 3, Paul has this to say:
"But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith - that I may know Him and  the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it on my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. " - Philippians 3:7-14.
Yes, that was probably the biggest chunk of verses I've ever placed in a post on here before. It's worth it though. 1, you had to work for the point of it and didn't even realize. (Ha!) 2, I'm a firm believer in reading what comes before and after a main point. All of the extras aren't there to sound all smarty pants or anything, because I am far from it. Rather, it's to show it's important. It's to show how Paul gets up to his main point. He starts here by saying that everything he once counted as important - which was a lot, because in Acts and Romans it says how he was the cream of the crop for Jewish society: born in the right family, perfect job, knew the right people, all that nonsense. He was basically on-par for Kennedy status in their day and age, if I may be so bold to include another history reference - now is something he counts as holding him back. All of those things are nice, and helped him in his life before God, but now they're just holding him back because they are desirable when he should be focusing on God.
Paul goes on to say how he is focusing on becoming more like God. He states how he has yet to attain this, but he keeps trying. Even when other people are looking at him like he's crazy - and honestly, being someone that important in society and then throwing it all away to follow someone that the Jewish people thought was also insane - Paul is still trying his hardest to get the job done. In this case, however, his invisible mouse is winning people to Christ. A much more satisfying, and more real, goal. 
Paul concludes this passage by saying in order to attain this goal, he's forgetting his past and pushing himself towards the future - an eternal life in Christ Jesus. He's throwing away all of the fancy titles, the prestige and power, and trying to strain towards a life with God. Talk about a determined guy. If I had something like that, I would be hard pressed to throw it away as easily as Paul did. 
When I was researching for this post, I saw a side note in my Bible that gave me some history behind Philippians. Paul actually wrote this while he was in prison about 60 years after Jesus died on the cross. Now, let's take a minute and think here. Paul is sitting in prison, writing this letter to the people in Philippi about straining to tell others about God and to live their lives for him. Another important part to note about this is in chapter four, Paul says he has "learned in every situation to be content." (v.11) Just hold on a minute. So, not only do we see a man who once had everything but has given it all away, but we see this same man writing a letter to people to encourage them to continue their faith and writing how he is content in every situation...AS HE SITS IN PRISON.
This guy was incredible.
His determination for others to learn and know Christ was something of legend, and something that should be completely recognized.  He says in verse 13 how he can do EVERYTHING - no ifs, ands, or buts - through Christ who gives Him strength. Even throw off his power and fame, his past, his entire way of life to live a humble life in and out of prison just to share the gospel. 
If Paul can do this, what's our excuse?
While my dog may not be the smartest, she's still bound and determined to find that mouse. If she ever does end up with a mouse, I'll be sure to let you all know. In the meantime, her determination to hunt it down will still inspire - and, yes, entertain - me. If Paul can find everything good in prison and still encourage others, I'm pretty sure Bailey can find a mouse somewhere in the backwoods where we live. 
Here's your NR challenge: figure out where your determination is. Is it set on the right kind of things, or are you just barking at a wall and chasing an imaginary mouse? 
Are you in?


Sorry that was a little uncalled for

Monday, April 16, 2012

I can teach history

Since I'm going to school to be an elementary teacher, I have to take a lot of pretty sweet classes. For example, one class I have this semester is "Creative Experiences and Play" - a big fancy name which really means "We're going to make crafts and make puffy paint and play with tambourines and dance at 8 in the morning and pretend it's legit." Cool class? Absolutely. At 8 in the morning? Not on your life.
Another class I'm taking is something like "Emerging Literacy for the Young Adolescent Kindergarten through 4th grade" or something ridiculous. Again, this has a secret name: "We read kids books and tell stories but it's enough work to make you want to pull your hair out."
I'm real good at this code name stuff.
One of the books we have to read for the biography genre of the class is one about FDR. For those of you who don't know, he was president. 4 times. Bro was legit. He had polio, but he was cool. After he was elected president the first time, he declared a national bank holiday for 4 days in order to straighten things out and get America out of the Great Depression. After he told Americans to take all of their money from under their mattresses (which was true, they were hiding it all under there since the banks were awful,) one Republican had this to say:
"The house is burning down, and the President of the United States says this is the way to put out the fire."
Have you ever thought of that? In order to start over, you have to wipe everything completely out. Take building something new, for example. If there's something there originally where you want to build, you have to level it all out and tear the previous stuff down to make way for the new. Out with the old, in with the new - you know the deal.
This applies to your life, too.
In my last post, I referred to starting over. Clean slate, new challenges to overcome. This one ties in with it. If you're sincere about starting over and doing something new, you have to level what you had before.
Maybe something keeps holding you back. You want to honestly try and do good, to renew everything, start over fresh. But you can't; that's holding you back. Whether you like it or not, it's there and you can't go anywhere with it still in your life.
This could be anything. A friendship. A dream. A guy or girl you're holding out for. A broken heart, a second chance, a shot at something you would never think of. These things aren't necessarily bad, but it's tying you down. Holding you back. Keeping you from leveling everything out, burning the old you away to make way for the new.
Sometimes, it's just plain scary to think about ditching everything we know. I know I struggle with it myself - latching on to familiar things is one of my weaknesses, even though I know it's not for my benefit.  There are things that hold me back that I fight to keep, whether they're good for me or not. It's pretty freaky to consider the fact that we should get rid of everything like that, to burn those ties.
We aren't alone when we leave those things behind. God promises us right in His word that we never can be alone:
"And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." - Matthew 28:20.
God is right there with us, holding us as we cut those ties to the things that are holding us back to what we could become and what God wants us to be in Him. It's a much more pleasant thought when we consider getting rid of those things and starting from the ground up when we know He's with us.
When we do let those things go and start new, man! What an awesome adventure we have in store for us then.
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"2 Corinthians 5:17.
God is waiting for us to become new creations, alive in Him. He's there as we get rid of the things He doesn't want in our lives anymore. That person, that relationship, that dream or job - once it's gone, who knows what will happen. God will move.
Perhaps the most famous quote by FDR came from his first inaugural address. In the midst of the Great Depression, with people desolate and unsure of what to do, with banks sinking and the country failing, he had this to say:
"There is nothing to fear but fear itself."
With God, there's simply nothing to fear, period. We don't have to be afraid of anything, because He's got it covered.
Your NR challenge is this: identify the things in your life that are holding you back. What are the things you need to burn to the ground to start over? What ties do you need to sever; what things do you need to get rid of? Pray about it. Think about it.
Then start burning the house down to get ready to put out the fire.
Are you in?