"Facing An Uncertain Future with Peaceful Confidence"

After the election I was really depressed that Obama won. If it was any other democrat I think I would have handled it better, but this guy is about as radical as they get. I was mostly depressed because he says he's going to "fundamentally change this country", to use his own words. And anyone who has really been listening to him knows what that means: socialism. He'll do it sneaky at first and make it seem like he's just trying to "help the middle class", by taxing rich people to death. However, at first he was only going to raise taxes on anyone who makes more than 250,000 dollars a year, but now he's lowered that number to 120,000 dollars a year. Any doubt that the number will go down again? I wouldn't be surprised one bit. Pretty soon we'll all be giving up most of our salary for "redistribution" - "spreading the wealth around". When you think that our ancestors formed this country as a capitalist society, and that's one of the reasons why America is so great - why everyone else in the world wishes they lived here - and that Obama is going change all that - well, how can you help but be depressed?
Boy, when I start to think about it I just start getting sad again. It still makes me depressed, but thanks to my sister, I now have a better perspective on things.
My sister is notorious for thinking about things like this differently. Of course she's no happier than I am that Obama got in, but she's very optimistic that this is a sign that Jesus is coming back soon. She's been looking up all these websites regarding the Rapture and Jesus's Second Coming, and she's gotten me re-interested in it too. Now I've always loved thinking about the end times when Jesus will return, but I haven't heard a good message on it in a very long time. Some pastors preach on the prophecies all the time and some don't, and I haven't had an opportunity to listen to a sermon on prophecy in a while. Considering this, and with some encouragement from my sister, I rented several books from the library, and I'm doing my own study on the end times. One of the books I rented had a very good section that I found encouraging, and I'd like to share it here. This is from Charting the End Times by Tim Lahaye, Chapter 3, page 14: the section entitled "Prophecy Offers Confidence in a Hopeless Age":

"The world in which we live has no hope. . .The whole world yearns for peace, but knows no peace. Mankind's problems continually worsen, leaving many people without hope.
Prophecy students, however, not only know what our loving God has planned for the future of this planet and the billions who live on it, but they also have a firm confidence toward the future and are not afraid. They not only know what the future holds; they also know the One who holds the future. . .
This cofidence or hope is not automatic; it comes in response to the study of the Word of God in general as well as those passages that pertain to prophecy. And when we speak of hope, wer'e not talking about a casual hope that says 'We hope things will turn out all right.' No, we who are Christians are confident that the future will happen exactly as Christ predicted. We do not merely wish that Jesus will come again; we are confident that He will come again because He promised He would. The more we know about God's prophetic promises, the more convinced we will become of their future fulfillment. Those who are familiar with Bible prophecy are the only ones who can face what seems to be an uncertain future with peaceful confidence."

I think we can all agree that the times ahead of us are uncertain (especially with You-Know-Who in office). Obama may be able to change our country and take everything good away from us, but he can never take away our belief and confidence that Christ is going to return for us. Through the study of prophecy God tells us exactly how things will turn out: He will prevail. This eases our worries and doubts about the future, because in the end God wins. And that is what gives me hope.
My sister is one smart girl. I'm looking forward to learning more about biblical prophecy; it gives us the proper perspective, and it has been much too long since I have studied it. I'll be sure to share anything else interesting that I learn with ya'll!

Fireproof Review (and Derek got a job!)

Yesterday we found out that Derek got the job we had been praying for! Praise the Lord! We're really thankful that he got this job; we have been praying that the Lord would allow Derek to get the job the He wanted him to have, so we know this is where we're supposed to be right now. Thank you to all of those who have been praying for us; we greatly appreciate your prayers, and I know they made a difference!
To celebrate Derek and I went out to dinner and a movie, which we haven't been able to do too much lately. We went to see the movie Fireproof. Going in to it we weren't quite sure what to expect. Fireproof was made by the same church that created the movie Facing the Giants, so we figured the message would be good, but I know we each had our worries. One of them was how the acting and effects would be in this movie, and I was a little worried about the subject. I knew a movie about a couple trying to save their marriage would probably turn out good, but I was a little worried that it would be too serious and that the seriousness would make it hard to enjoy.
The movie Fireproof is about a couple (Caleb and Katherine) who start out having serious marital problems. They are ready to get a divorce, but Caleb's father challenges him to wait 40 days to try a "Love Dare" in order to attempt to save their marriage. Caleb accepts his father's challenge and start the Love Dare, though Katherine doesn't know about it. In the end they realize their marriage is worth saving. You can go to http://www.pluggedinonline.com/ for a more thorough review.
It turns out both our worries were unfounded. Maybe the acting/effects still weren't the best if you're going to be picky, but they were greatly improved from the chuch's previous production. The movie also had many jokes and funny situations, and Derek and I found ourselves laughing several times throughout the movie. Even more impressive was the way they worked in the gospel message (I thought it was done very well), and the entire premise was not only interesting to watch, but Derek and I thought the suggestions of the "Love Dare" in the movie could be very useful to apply to our marriage. I think we both compared our own actions to some of the do's and don'ts covered in the movie. When a film can make you laugh and help you improve an area in your life, I think it deserves an A!

The Day After: Remembering My Sojourner's Heart

Barak Obama won the election last night. It was what I was most afraid of. My mom said you can either laugh or cry at a time like that. I found myself crying.
I really love the United States of America (maybe sometimes too much for my own good), and I'm very proud of my country and what it has stood for from the day it was founded. It is one of the only places on earth where you can start with nothing and through hard work reach the "upper class". We have more rights in this country than any other I can think of, and we are free to live and believe as we wish, and do the best we can in life. It is a country that was founded and is based upon Christian principles, whether people will admit it or not, and I believe that is why the U.S. is so prosperous. I'm really afraid that this could all change now. It's like watching something die. I pray the Lord will preserve us and the United States of America over the next 4-8 years.
Last night the Lord brought these verses to my mind; this is right after the chapter was talking about people of faith:

"These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them from afar off were assured of them and confessed that they were pilgrims and strangers on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind the country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them."
Hebrews 11:13-16

I may love this country, but at a time like this I'm remembering that this isn't my real country. It's not my true homeland. God saw fit to allow me to live here for now, and I love it, but my citizenship actually lies somewhere else: in Heaven. In reality, Christians don't really belong anywhere in this world; we're sojourners, just passing through. And as stated above, may God preserve us until we finally reach our Homeland.

"The Right to Vote: an Opportunity from God" Revisited

Well, I'm posting this a little late. Today is election day, and I just remembered an essay I wrote a couple years ago about voting. Since it is election day I thought this would be an appropriate time to re-post it.

The Right to Vote: An Opportunity from God Nov 5 2006 4:26 PM

This morning I was sitting in church as we started the prayer portion of our service, and my pastor stated a fact that I found pretty shocking. I can't remember the exact numbers, but he said of all the millions of Christians who live in the U.S. only half of them vote.
I don't understand that. We live in a country where we can have a say as to the direction we go in the future. We have a voice; we have a vote. There are millions of people in other countries who would give anything to be able to have some effect on their governments. We live in a country where we have that right; where we have that opportunity. And yet so many people take that oppurtunity for granted.
If any group should be voting it should be Christians. In Matthew Jesus said we are the salt of the earth. They used to use salt to keep meat from going bad. The only reason the world hasn't gone rotten is because God has put us here. And a major way that Christians can keep this country from going rotten it to vote. There are some serious moral issues that will be decided in the upcoming midterm elections. As my pastor said "The only thing a good man has to do to allow evil to prevail is nothing".
I'm not going to do nothing. I am voting and covering election day in prayer. And I'd encourage any of you who can to do the same.
So if you're registered to vote, get to the polls on election day. Let your voice be heard; keep the country from going bad. Use the opportunity God has given to you. And don't ever take it for granted.

This year it's more important than ever for Christians to get out and vote for the candidate that more closely represents our Christian values; I personally believe that man to be John McCain, but every Christian must decide for themselves. So do your research, make a decision, and get out there to vote!
End note: I got the above image from www.polkelections.com.

High and Pure Ideals - A Lesson from Anne of Green Gables

This fall I've been revisiting some of the books that I enjoyed most when I was growing up; when you're older you are able to pick new things out of books that you may have already read. One of the series I re-started was the "Anne of Green Gables" series, by L. M. Montgomery. I really love these books for many reasons, one of which is that the author is somehow able to sneak good points into the story, and it's interesting because it's done in such a natural way. I especially liked one of these points this time around, and I thought I'd share an excerpt. This is from the second book Anne of Avonlea:

"Gilbert was as yet little more than a boy; but a boy has his dreams as have others, and in Gilbert's future there was always a girl with big, limpid gray eyes, and a face as fine and delicate as a flower. He had made up his mind, also, that his future must be worthy of its goddess. Even in quiet Avonlea there were temptations to be met and faced. White Sands youth were a rather "fast" set, and Gilbert was popular wherever he went. But he meant to keep himself worthy of Anne's friendship and perhaps some distant day her love; and he watched over every word and thought and deed as jealously as if her clear eyes were to pass in judgement on it. She held over him the unconcious influence that every girl, whose ideals are high and pure, weilds over her friends; an influence that would endure as long as she was faithful to those ideals and which she would as certainly lose if she were ever false to them. In Gilbert's eyes Anne's greatest charm was the fact that she never stooped to the petty practices of so many of the Avonlea girls - the small jealousies, the little deceits and rivalries, the palpable bids for favor. Anne held herself apart from all this, not conciously or of design, but simply because anything of the sort was utterly foreign to her transparent, impulsive nature, crystal clear in it's motives and aspirations."

I thought this was a beautiful description of something that I have witnessed myself: that when a persons holds high standards in their behaviour and speech, the people around them tend to live up to that person's standards, whether they realize it or not. My parents have always had high expectations of the behaviour of my siblings and me, and I have noticed many times, with my family members and myself, that people do tend to watch their own behaviour around us because of our high standards. I especially love the following line: "She held over him the unconcious influence that every girl, whose ideals are high and pure, wields over her friends; an influence that would endure as long as she was faithful to those ideals, and which she would as certainly lose if she was ever false to them." It's amazing that someone can so easily influence other people for the better, simply by holding pure ideals, but it's very true. But it's important not only to have high ideals yourself, but to practice them. As soon as you violate your own standards there is no reason for others to try to live up to them, because you yourself do not.

This section of the book encouraged me to watch myself for any lapses in practicing my ideals, and I hope it encourages you too. You could be influencing those around you, and it's important to represent Christ in your actions and keep the best ideals possible; it could matter more than you know.

End note: I got the above image from www.ddsbinfo.wordpress.com.

Ralphie and Quincy

A couple weeks ago my mom, who works at our local sheriff's office, told Derek and me that the animal control department just picked up a new dog. Apparently she was always kept outside and ran away several times, and the owner's didn't seem to want her; they hadn't returned any of the calls about the dog. Well, alas, before we knew it my mom said that she was taking the dog, and she was ours if we wanted her. Well, how could we say no? So, yes, we have another dog now. She is a Cairn terrior, and probably one of the happiest dogs I've ever met. You just look at her and she starts wagging her tail and smiles at you. We named her Quincy, and she and Ralphie are becoming great friends; they play all day long. I couldn't resist posting something on her and Ralphie, so here it is! Ralphie is alot better at pictures than Quincy. Quincy always turns her head right before I push the button, but Ralphie just sits there and looks at me like a pro! He should be in commercials!
Dogs are great aren't they? They always love you, and love being around you, even if you yell at them sometimes. They seem to know if you are down and they just cuddle up to you and melt some of that sadness away. And they're great stress-relievers; they're always so excited and happy to see you! It's a blessing to have pets, and dogs seem especially to be a blessing, at least for me! Guess I'm a little biased though; I'm definitely a dog person!

The Season of Autumn

There's something about the changing of the seasons. It occurs so gradually, you hardly notice it's happening, but one day you can just feel in the air that the world has put one season behind and is tentatively stepping into the next. I especially notice this in the fall. In your head you may know that according to the calendar it should be autmun, but it isn't truly autumn until you feel it in the air. There's a certain crispness and spice that is felt more than seen or smelled or anything else. It starts with a certain "wiff" of fall-ness on a day that you would still be expecting summer. Then before you know it this season of change is in full swing.

The leaves change and brilliantly paint the hills in color. The air is brisk, and you start to smell smoke from the chimneys of neighbors' houses. Soups, cidars, teas, and of course, candy corn are served once again, and pumpkins appear in the gorcery stores. Football games prevail on the TV (especially in our house; Broncos games, CU Buffs games, and any other game that may affect the aforesaid teams). My dad starts to scout for hunting seasons, we start target shooting for practice, and the camo and hunter's orange is brought out of the box. The ground is covered with a beautiful mixture of green, red, orange, and yellow, and the fallen leaves bring that wonderful spicy, musty fragrance that is impossible to reproduce and always seems to elicit warm, comfortable, contented feelings from me.

My dad has always said that it is in the fall that he feels the most alive. I must have inherited some of that love of autumn from my dad, because I always feel exactly the same way when fall starts sneaking into the world and bringing with it the feelings that have always characterized the season for me. I think fall is one of the most beautiful exhibitions of the creativity of God, and I can't help but thanking Him for giving us a world with such amazing mountains, rivers, trees, and seasons. I think the reason I love the Autumn best is because there is a certain clarity, spice, and satisfaction that makes it so special. I feel alive, as my dad says, and I feel as if I'm home. I think Heaven must have a little bit of autumn in it; I think that maybe God created the fall to give us just a glimpse of how beautiful Heaven must be. But the fall can only be an imperfect glimpse of Heaven, like a dream is an imperfect, foggy glimpse of the world we know. One day death will blow that fog away, and we'll wake up to a more beautiful reality than we could ever imagine, and then we will really be alive. Because it reminds me of the beauty of Heaven, autumn will always be the most special season to me.

With that thought, excuse me while I go enjoy a cup of Vanilla Maple tea and some candy corn.

"Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him."
1 Corinthians 2:9
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