"You have the audacity to be beautiful even on days where everything around you is ugly." - Rudy Franciso
Reblogged from trustchrist
Grace Kavanagh (via trustchrist)
About being a Christian. Specifically, one quality that has been floating around in my head after reading all these C.S. Lewis books is a mixture of humility and forgiveness. The quality that I am speaking about is wishing others the very best, no matter what. We focus so much on how the things in our lives should be going this way and that, and then we get caught up in the jealousy of our hearts when others surpass us. We think to ourselves why life is so unfair when we fail to obtain something we want when we practically have everything we need. There is a moment in one of C.S. Lewis’ book called The Great Divorce, where I will try my very best to project into your minds.
The scene starts where some people on a bus get off in Heaven. This may be hard to visualize, but just picture all those moments you take the bus to get to school. You wait at the bus stop waiting to get from point A to B. Once you take the journey and arrive at your destination, you encounter a new environment with different people. In the book, one of the riders encounters a murderer that he is not very fond of. As you can imagine the series of conversation that follows, the rider is tremendously unhappy to see a murderer in Heaven. However, the murderer comes to the rider asking for forgiveness. The hardened heart of the rider refuses to believe that a murderer should belong in Heaven and chooses to return to the bus. The sad reality is that we tend to do this every single day when we grow envious of other people. Shouldn’t we be focusing on ourselves rather than the blessings of other people. We fail to grasp the importance of looking in a mirror and turn it more into a window.
I guess a big thing that I learned is that as Christians, we really have to wish the best for others. Loving our neighbors as Jesus told us, does not technically mean we have to be best buds with every single person we meet, but wish, hope, and pray for the best. No matter what they have done to you in the past, today, or what they will do, we should be praying for the best. Even with our own judgements, we need to believe that God has a greater plan for them. Even when we think they do not deserve some great opportunity, it is not our job to decide whether or not they really deserve something. God calls us to love our neighbors. A great way to picture what that looks like is ourselves. Look in the mirror and think hard. There are a countless number of things we do in our daily lives that we ourselves despise. We are all human and are captivated by our own desires, which we dislike, but still we love ourselves. We learn to forgive ourselves on a daily basis and that is what God does for us every day. Forgive others and pray for the best. When we can look past what others have, we can truly start to grow.
Wish the best for others. Pray for the best in their lives. When we start doing this, we can love our neighbors easily. Judging is something we do every day and judging is so easy to do. However, our hearts should not be stained with judgements about people we do not know and even people we know really well. We should focus on our own lives because in the end, we will not be judged on the lives of others. This is something I will be working on until my time comes and I encourage each of you to pray for your neighbors as well. There is no need for comparison because we all have our unique blessings that no one else will ever obtain. Loving your neighbors may be extremely hard, but wishing the best for them will make it a little easier.
An uncontainable conviction surrounding my total existence these past few days has been the underlying foundation of why we are Christians. The Gospel is the Good News that should lie in the very depths of our hearts. Jesus, yes Jesus, the living person in the Bible and in our lives today, should be the driving force of our wavering faith into something that is unquestionably solid. As real as George Washington, or you and me, Jesus lived, walked, and breathed on this world. The Gospel begins of course with the verse that everyone quotes because it falls off the tip of our tongue with such ease, we just want to say it over and over again: John 3:16. For God so loved the world, He gave His one and only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. However, let’s continue down the path of the verses. Verse 17 states: For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
God LOVED us before He even created us. However, the world fell into sin and created a big divide, where humans continuously fell into the pit of the world. This world with all of its temptations and passions confuse our desire to know God and distract our eyes to focus on what we want versus what God wants. But wait, God loved the world, so he sent His only Son Jesus to take the weight of our sins, yes, ALL of our sins upon his shoulders. The significance? God forgives those who come to Him with sincere hearts that cry out for Him. Regardless of what me and you did yesterday, do today, and will do tomorrow, God forgives us over and over again. There is no end to his unconditional mercy, which we think of as illogical, crazy even. Who, really ask yourself, who would forgive us for all the darkness in our hearts that compound every single day over and over again? God will. The best analogy that I’ve heard to date is about a husband and a wife. Let’s say one cheats on the other. The other then forgives them. Sure, the cheater may fail again, once or twice, however many times, but the one who does not, forgives them every time. Crazy? By our worldly standards yes. However, isn’t this what we do to God every day? Cheat on him with the things in our daily lives that range from idolatry to envy.
But wait, there’s more. Why do we as Christians act the way we do? Let’s look at another analogy. The family, the parents, the kids. We are the children who are disobedient, but we try our hardest to stop doing the things that upset our parents out of the love we have for them. For we love and respect and fear God for his infinite grace in giving us His son that we fight against sin even though we may stumble along the road. God picks us up during these times and tells us once again, “You are forgiven.”
BUT WAIT, there’s more because God’s grace is overflowing and unending. This brings me to something that is hard to digest, where God not only wipes away our sins clean, but gives us the most eternal gift: righteousness. Romans 3: 21-25, “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Jesus not only forgive us of our sins, but he imparts on us his righteousness. HE is giving us a GIFT. After telling myself this over and over again, and telling other people about this good news, my heart overflows for God. My intentions behind sharing the Gospel is because I cannot NOT share this amazing fact. Last analogy I promise. What others have told me as well is the one about a courtroom. God sits as the judge and we are the ones on trial. The verdict comes from God and it says that we are guilty for the sins we commit every day, but here’s the catch. God tells us we’re set free and he gives us His righteousness. Instead of just having a clean slate, zero balance, we walk away forgiven and with a positive balance. The reality is that we are all sinners, but through the grace of God, we are set free from the prison of our sins and given a home to return to. It is as I committing a horrible atrocity against you my brother or sister, and then you forgive me and invite me in to your home to help me.
This is what we as Christians should be celebrating with an over joyous heart every day. Through Christ we are set free and given his righteousness. How can we contain the good news in hiding when we are called to share it with everyone. Our own personal newspapers should have the headline of THE GOOD NEWS every day. The gospel should escape our lips without hesitation. Ask me and I’ll tell you with an uncontainable passion why the good news encompasses my heart. Of how I am striving to be Christ-like, striving to have a God-centered relationship, and striving to be a prayer warrior.
The foundation that I build my faith on rests in a single word: Gospel. The good news is truly headlining news. Believe it in your hearts. I will never know what you think, and I will never be able to convince or persuade anybody about the existence of God, but I can share with you the Gospel. We are called to plant the seeds, but all the growth comes from God above. 1 Corinthians 3:7, 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.
Amidst studying for finals, writing last-minute papers, applying for internships, getting an internship, planning what to do for spring break, and listing things on and on, I had the pleasure of completing a book I was fully immersed in.
The Sphere by Michael Crichton. A Sci-Fi GENIUS. One of the craziest aspects about Michael Crichton that appeals to me, besides being a student of Harvard + Harvard Med, is that he’s an author who imagined things before his time. The Andromeda Strain in 1969, Jurassic Park in 1990, The Sphere in 1987, and much, much more. I always wanted to meet up with an author and see how their thought process worked around their mind. How they can use this power we have called imagination and fuel our minds with a story that people can only muster bits and pieces of.
I once thought about the importance of books. What kind of books appealed to me, why I read, what makes books so captivating and I came upon a simple word that The Sphere just emphasized more: imagination. I believe that the greatest books make our minds work like a projector to IMAGINE the progression of events in a book. What did Harry Potter see when he entered Hogwarts Castle, what did Ender see in the battle room, how did the Little Prince encounter different planets, what did Norman exactly experience inside the Sphere? My brain overflows with myriad questions about the little details that make up the whole picture. Before movies were made about these masterpieces, I imagined things that movies can never capture. I love reading books because my imagination, if it could be something tangible, would keep on filling up this pool in my mind.
However, let us get back to why I started this blog in the first place, to write about the Sphere and why I enjoyed it so much. Sometime Saturday, I picked it up because I didn’t want to study anymore and read ten pages, which turned into fifty. I ate up the words as easily as eating homemade food because it was so well written. When I can imagine the characters, how they act, and what piece of the whole puzzle they make up, I am extremely thrilled to keep reading. I love character development, something that I didn’t think I was so interested in, but here we are.
*Spoiler alert. If you guys haven’t read the Sphere, I may spoil some parts, so read it before you read anything I write. The concept Michael Crichton comes up with in this book grasps the power of our imagination before Inception brought it to life. The sphere (alien or man made?) gave you the POWER of imagination. The power to bring anything you imagine to life, but what are the great dangers of this practically super-human ability? Control. Our imagination knows NO bounds. Something that sets us apart from the everyday animal is our capability to imagine worlds in our minds, imagine scenarios back and forth, conjure the magical and the mystic. Without our imagination, we would cease to be unique, set-apart, human.
A book that is so well-thought out exemplifies an aspect of our daily lives that we just glaze over. Without control, our imagination would spread like wild-fire. How in just a split second, we think of how the world can fly straight into the sun, and in the next think of how cool it would be to have super powers. In another instance, we could imagine an alternate universe. Our imagination can leave us daydreaming for hours on end without anyway out but to slap ourselves back to reality. Control. Without it, we would be lost in imagination. I could have had a grilled-cheese sandwich today, oh wait, I need to go to the store to buy cheese, oh wait, people are walking upside down outside, oh wait, what would that even look like? Our imagination is like a grid without any connection, with connections. The lines may connect, but the ideas don’t.
The Sphere can be connected to our daily lives. Why do we need to jump into something in order to find out if we have the power to imagine when we can do it every single second. Sure, I guess if I could imagine me flying and it happened, that would be pretty amazing, but what stops it from being real inside my head. Don’t get me wrong, I sound like I’m going off in crazy land, thinking about all these radical things, but somethings I amuse myself with my imagination. “Visualize it happening, and it happens.” The Sphere gave the characters the ability to bring anything in their imagination to life. What a spectacular, but horrifying idea? If the whole world was given this extraordinary power, would that mean that we would live in an eternal fantasy land? Who knows, that’s up to your imagination to figure out.
"The ability to imagine is the largest part of what you call intelligence. You think the ability to imagine is merely a useful step on the way to solving a problem or making something happen. But imagining it is what makes it happen. This is the gift of your species and this is the danger, because you do not choose to control your imaginings. You imagine wonderful things and you imagine terrible things, and you take no responsibility for the choice. You say you have inside you both the power of good and the power of evil, the angel and the devil, but in truth you have just one thing inside you - the ability to imagine" - Michael Crichton in The Sphere
It all starts with our imagination. The ability to conquer, the ability to speak, the ability to encourage. Our thought-process is what separates us from being someone completely out of control. When we lack our imagination, we lack the ability to filter things through because with our imagination, we think of consequences, desires, expectations. Instead of looking at the angel and the devil on your shoulder, your imagination brings those two to life, and brings your thoughts to fruition.
The Sphere made me realize something while I was reading it. Our imagination can be a magnificent, beautiful, all-power tool in our lives, but it can also create things we never knew was in there. With imagination, all you can really do is put your foot on the gas and see where it takes you.
God is good. All the time. These phrases ran through my head every moment of this past weekend’s retreat. This past weekend was my first AACF retreat and there are just so many things to be thankful for and tell everyone about. There are three main things that I want to write down here for anyone who cares to read, but more importantly a reminder to myself of God’s great glory.
The majority of us go to a retreat with almost an identical mindset. Let’s learn from a great speaker, let’s pray for each other, let’s build relationships, and let’s take something away from it. I, myself have been a part of and witnessed when we go to retreat for a weekend and when we come back, it looks as though nothing has changed. What is the point of going away for a weekend if it only feels like a fantasy-world, or something apart from reality? Is God not real? Does God not exist in our daily walks, and right now at this moment? It’s hard to truly go to a retreat and leave changed. I have experienced this myself and no stranger to how I fail to grasp anything from a retreat. This past weekend was, for a lack of a better word, monumental. I lied, I do have better words: influential, quintessential, an eclectic experience.
The whole lot of us leave a retreat unchanged. When the very night before can be filled with praises of our Lord and Savior, and the next morning we return to our lives going through the motions and just doing the same-ole-thing. I wish everyone could experience what I did this past weekend, but I hope that God will work through these words to touch your heart. I wouldn’t write about how amazing God is if it wouldn’t influence others. Our words have so much weight, our prayers have so much power, and our actions can change the world.
Through my experiences of retreat, this past one had me filled with a lot of different feelings and thoughts. Skepticism ran through my mind at least a few times, gratefulness ran through me the whole time, encouraged through peoples actions, but ultimately GOD’s movement in our lives!
First off, everyone getting to retreat safely was so amazing. Driving can turn into such a disaster if someone loses attention for just a second, so that focus was spectacular. AACF had a prayer meeting right before the retreat and I could see how prayer does SO SO SO much. God answers our prayers if we ask, and when we pray, we move. The prayer meeting was so uplifting and it brought us together. Leadership prayed with sincerity and humility, and you know what? GOD ANSWERS. As you can tell, I really enjoyed praying with ALL of you. I was so uplifted just at the beginning of the pastor’s message when he talked about how Hannah in 1 Samuel prayed so much for a child even though she was barren. She even has a section called HANNAH’S PRAYER. Come on guys, we go through a daily life with so many blessings, but we only thank God for major outcomes. This comes around to the person who gets mad at a red light, but is never thankful for a green one.
The first message alone was so applicable to ALL of our lives. How many of us can say we DON’T turn apathetic from time to time. We go through our daily lives giving God only a couple minutes when He should have it all. Sure, we all have our priorities, but I truly believe that if we focus on God, then we can learn so much. I don’t want to just ramble about what I learned, but it’s good to remember what we went over. One thing that stood out is how our apathetic hearts grows constantly when we’re not in Him. How a simple sin could keep growing, how when we grow lazy, we tell ourselves we can just do it tomorrow. Or how a sin that we succumb to continuously jades us into believing it’s not that bad. Apathy is such a strong weapon Satan uses against us in order to sell our hearts to the world.
Not only did I build such great relationships with everyone, but I was able to work on my relationship with God. The first night, we were all thrown into prayer, and as much as I was skeptical about some things, I needed that time with Him, and I needed that time to pray for other people. God moves so much when we pray and sometimes I forget how important prayer truly is. Prayer simply flew out of my mouth for each person and for myself. I felt a joy in my heart that only God can provide and God reminded me with a slap across the face how prayer should be in our hearts always.
1) The importance of prayer. Hannah prayed for a child and God blessed her with Samuel. She even made a promise to God that Samuel would be entirely His. Then Hannah proceeds to say a prayer to God that is so profound and so thankful that I was reminded about how we need to be thankful. We need to pray on a constant basis with a sincere heart. We need to pray to the point where our Spirit works in us, where the words can’t even come out because we’re overcome with God.
2) The importance of confession. IT HEALS. We bottle up so many things in our daily lives that we just put it in the darkest recesses of our minds and forget about them. God wants us to confess our sins and be healed through prayer! Gosh, that one night was so beautiful. So so beautiful that I lost words to say when it happened. We, as a body of Christ, are called to be there for one another and pray for each other. We are able to heal one another because God uses us. God calls us to be his hand and feet, so let’s serve one another.
3) The importance of community. We grow. Retreat is a place where we can just get together and learn more about one another. But more importantly, the people in our lives are able to help us and encourage us. Pray for one another because as you have all witnessed at retreat, we move. We can heal one another, we can uplift one another, we can bring each other up. You know how beautiful it is to see people who barely know each other, pray for each other with so much love and sincerity. Come on, Jesus made us so beautifully, and called us to be His servants.
4) Actually, I thought of another thing, and this is by far the most important out of everything. THE GOSPEL. Yes, God sent His one and only Son, who was so pure, while we are such sinners, and died for us. Can any of us grasp the enormity of this event? Can we recognize how powerful this moment was? God made us to love us, and because of our own sinful desire, we fell away. But, because we were constantly struggling with sin, Jesus came to die on the cross to bear all the weight of the world on His shoulders. ALL OF IT. He died for us because He loved us so much. He made us to be beautiful and because He died for us, we were all made perfect. In God, we are all perfect, and through his eyes, we are ALL beautiful. We, as humans, judge so much, and put so much weight on appearance, but God made us all beautifully. =D.
I’m praying not only for myself, but for everyone. So much glory in God and I hope God speaks to you. I want everyone to know that retreat isn’t a getaway, but a place in our DAILY walks where we can focus on God. That what we leave with is so eternal that change cannot be avoided. I’m praying for you. God knows that all of us are beautiful, and I would like everyone to know! =)
Hi guys. So this is not my own writing, or my own thoughts at all. This is a golf quote I found in a magazine long, long time ago that I’ve been searching for forever. As I sit here cleaning out my desk, going through memories from when I was a baby, all the way til now, I just laugh at all the things I used to enjoy. Lo and behold, I fell upon the magazine I literally saved in my desk that I forgot about. When you open the first page, this quote about golf speaks to you straight from the words.
From a November 2007 issue of California Golf!!
The Golfer’s Creed
"Golf is a science, the study of a lifetime, in which you may exhaust yourself, but never your subject. It is a contest, a duel, or a melee, calling for courage, skill, strategy and self-control. It is a test of temper, a trial of honour, a revealer of character. It affords a chance to play the man and act the gentleman. It means going into God’s out-of-doors, getting close to nature, fresh air, exercise, a sweeping away of mental cobwebs, genuine recreation of tired tissues. It is a cure for care, an antidote to worry. It includes companionship for friends, social intercourse, opportunities for courtesy, kindliness and generosity to an opponent. It promotes not only physical health but moral force."
David Forgan - Circa 1900
As I was trying to pin something up on the wall, I missed and dropped the pin. I watched the pin spin downwards towards the floor and as it made contact with the soft floor the saying, “so quiet you could hear a pin drop” was all that resonated. However, I thought about something, or somethings as it fell. In my mind, the pin flew back up in time, where I envisioned different things each time the pin pointed somewhere different. Even though the saying goes “so quiet you could hear a pin drop”, let’s see how quiet the drop of a pin truly is.
The beginning of the downward motion of the pin; it points at 9 o’clock. In that very instant, a person could have just been proposed to; this moment would be extremely happy. Then the pin points to 12 o’clock, in another part of the world, a person has just been hit by a car and instantly passes away, an extremely morbid moment. Next, the pin continues its clockwise turn to 2 o’clock. In this instant, a life is being born in a hospital, in a country we don’t know how to pronounce, in a place we’ve never been to. A moment of tremendous elation.
Turning ever so slightly, the pin points to 3 o’clock. Another part of the world, another place, another moment. A little boy lives in constant fear of gunshots and bomb explosions. He trembles in his sleep, yet finds comfort in living another day. A moment of shock and fear, combined as one.
Then the pin looks straight down at 6 o’clock. A woman snaps a beautiful, artistic picture. The shutter speed passes instantaneously, capturing the masterpiece in her intricate piece of technology. The moment is marked with perfection.
Almost a full circle, the pin points at 8 o’clock, a person driving a one-in-a-hundred type of car. Brand new, bright red, and brilliantly fast. The driver loses control of the car, and in that moment the car slowly turns to its side. What happens next, you have to wait for the pin to turn a little more.
All these moments happen within a pin drop. In all the parts of the world, there are joyous moments, shocking moments, depressing moments, fearful moments, and the list goes on and on. The next time you think it’s so quiet that you can hear a pin drop; think again. Think about what is going on in the world around you. Just because you’re in your own little world doesn’t mean that the the world isn’t moving. There’s music and noise everywhere. Even through a pin drop, the world experiences over a million moments.