NovelSisters

watching, reading, and writing stories

Why do I make Art?

I was skimming through old school assignments today and came across this question I had to answer. Here’s what I wrote five years ago:

Why do I make art? That’s a hard question. I’ve been doing it so long it seems like part of who I am. I was always told I was good at art when I was growing up so I kept doing it. I think the satisfaction of someone seeing my work and approving it was what I sought after. But I don’t think that’s the whole reason. I mean I like people’s good opinion, but I think I also like the shared experience of the artwork. When I make a painting of a sunset, or some landscape, it’s because I see it and I just want to capture it. I don’t ever want to forget what it looked like and felt like, and then when others see it too, it makes me feel like I got to share that experience. I also love art because, I feel like it’s worth the work, like at the end of the project there’s a deep satisfaction and enjoyment of the work. When I finish a big paper for class, I never want to see it again, but when I finish a painting, I want to show it off, to hang it up and let the world see it. I guess I also really admire O’Keeffe and how she took something that no one would notice and made it where you couldn’t ignore or miss it anymore, like the everyday flower. I feel like that’s what I want in my art, for people to be able to see and appreciate what I see. To not just see another sunset, but see the purples, pinks, yellows, the beams of light and vibrancy that make it unique, that might never happen again. I just love seeing the beauty in nature, and I want others to see it too, so I paint, draw, take a picture, or whatever. I don’t know if my art is meaningful, if there is some great question or problem I’m trying to address. I guess it could be as simple as stop and smell the flowers, enjoy life, it is so beautiful and amazing. And maybe this won’t always be the case, I’m sure the problems and changes in life will affect what I make and what I want others to notice, but I’d like to hope that I’ll always be positive and uplifting with my art, because that’s who I want to be and what I want others to get from my art.

I think many of these reasons still are true for me. But a conversation I had the other day reminded me of how much more significant artwork can be when it’s used for God. For the past two years my mother and I have worked on making small watercolors to give away to people at prayer rooms. These pictures could have a scene from nature with a verse, or some object or person represented. But the whole point of them was to remind people of truth, not just with words but with images. It’s been amazing to see how God has used these little pictures to encourage people, remind them of His love and provision and speak truth.

So I think the reason I make art has grown, to not just make people notice what they’ve been missing in nature, but to recognize the God who made nature, us, and everything. I hope my artwork continues to improve and glorify the God who enabled me to make it in the first place.

And since I’ve talked about it so much, I thought I’d share a few pieces of artwork.

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Being With Jesus

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So first off, I’m sorry for not posting last week. July has been a crazy month for me, full of vacations, Bible Clubs and my birthday. But during all the hubbub God has been teaching me something that is really important and I thought I’d share it.

To give some context, I’ve been reading through Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book The Cost of Discipleship and also reading through Luke and several of the New Testament Letters this month. That’s part of where I’ve been learning from God. But I was also heavily involved in my church’s outreach called Great Adventure which involves Bible Clubs (similar to Vacation Bible School for those who don’t know what that is). And in the craziness and busyness of it all I realized that I was focusing on all of the little details of a club: how presentations went, if the leaders were connecting to kids, and if the kids were having fun or bored. One day I was focusing so much on all these details and what could have gone better, that I realized I was missing the point.

That night I read in Philippians about all the things Paul did that he now considered rubbish.

“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ… I consider them rubbish 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 is through faith in Christ-“ Philippians 3:7-9

And in the next chapter he says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4

I had been so focused on works that I hadn’t remembered to rejoice in what God was doing. So I changed my perspective, and instead of looking at all the problems, I looked for all the ways God was at work. He was connecting students to kids, teaching students that He answers prayer, and showing us all that it wasn’t our effort or work that mattered, but His power.

But God wasn’t done with me. As I was reading in The Cost of Discipleship, Bonhoeffer dug deep into this passage:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'” Matthew 7:21-23

Just as Paul said his works were worthless, these great deeds of casting out demons and healing people were worthless. My own efforts in doing Bible Clubs would be worthless too, if I missed the whole point. Why am I doing these things? If I’m not doing them with Jesus, for Jesus, and because of Jesus, then they are worthless.

Fast forward to this morning and I found myself reading Luke 10 and the last section jumped out at me:

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to Him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

I know God isn’t impressed with my works but all of these passages really reinforced that message. Jesus doesn’t care how much I do for Him, how many Bible clubs I help with, how many times I share the Gospel, how many people I serve and love. Those are all great things, and following Jesus does mean doing these things, but the whole point is being with Jesus, loving Jesus and knowing Jesus. If I forget that, it’s all meaningless. So I thought I’d share that with you today. Don’t forget to be with Jesus today.

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Me Before You

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Movie review time again, yay! I’ve been waiting to see “Me Before You” for a long time and I was excited that it worked out with my friend to watch it last night. This is definitely one of those chick flick movies, so if that’s not your preference, feel free to stop reading. But I found the film very enjoyable. It’s definitely more of a tearjerker movie and not as much of a romantic comedy. Although, there were definitely a lot of funny moments in the film and I enjoyed laughing along with the rest of the audience.

But in the end, this is not a happily ever after type movie. From the beginning we can tell that this romance is mixed with tragedy. One of the main characters William, is involved in an accident at the beginning of the film and has to deal with the pain, humiliation, and changes that come from having a spinal cord injury. The plotline focuses on his growing relationship with Louisa. She tries to brighten up his life, make him smile, laugh and focus on the good. It is fun and sometimes laughable to see her efforts at cheering him up throughout the film.

But then we find out that William has decided to end his life. It’s a decision that he made before he even met Louisa, and the audience cheers her on as she tries to change his mind. But despite her best efforts, the film progresses toward this assumed ending. This definitely brings out the tears. But more than that, it brought up some questions and a good discussion with my friend.

As Christians, we could see something missing from Louisa’s efforts to save William. She was trying to convince him to keep living in a world full of pain, loss and disappointment. She wanted to make him happy, but he didn’t want to trap her in his world and keep her from living. No matter what she said, she couldn’t change his mind. Then my friend said, “If only he’d known Jesus.” It was a short comment, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it. There are so many people that live through horrific circumstances and don’t give up. They may live in pain every single day and a lot of people see them and think it would be better if they were put out of their sufferings. But they have a hope and they refuse to stop living.

I went home after the movie thinking about this and then happened to read this passage:

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.”

2 Corinthians 1:8-10 “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.”

I think if William had known Jesus, he could have kept living. Because Jesus not only comforts us in our hardships and delivers us from our despair, but He also gives us a hope and a promise. No matter how hard this life gets, He has promised that those who follow Him will have eternal life. All of the hardships from this life will be redeemed, and will be worth it. All of the sacrifices we made will mean something. Jesus gives us a reason to keep living.

So anyway, those were my thoughts after seeing this movie. If you enjoy a good chick-flick, check it out.

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Forgiveness

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I had to go back in my blog posts and make sure I hadn’t already covered this subject, and I was a bit surprised to find that it had never come up, or at least not in the titles of my blogs. Recently I’ve been thinking about forgiveness and since I don’t think I’ve even done a blog post about it, I guess it’s time to.

Well, I was reading this morning in Matthew 18 about the servant who was forgiven a huge debt by his master and then didn’t show forgiveness to his fellow servant who only owed him a small amount of money. When his master found out he got pretty upset and threw the unforgiving servant in prison. At the end of the parable Jesus says “So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

Now don’t get me wrong, just because I’m a Christian and know a lot of facts about Jesus and the Bible, doesn’t mean that actually doing what God says is easy. I try to obey God, including when it’s doing something hard, like forgiving someone. But there are times when it just feels impossible. What that person said or did just hurt so much, was so unfair, and my heart does not want to forgive. At those times, I have to ask for help. God forgave me, of everything I’ve ever done, the times I ignored Him, when I didn’t do what He specifically told me to do, when I was lazy or selfish or prideful or arrogant. And He is able to help me forgive others.

And I know when He asks me to forgive, it really is for my own good. Letting go of those hurts is hard, yes, but holding onto them is painful too. I’ve seen so many people lose relationships because they couldn’t forgive. Those hurts may feel like huge things to let go of, but what God has forgiven us of is even greater. And we didn’t deserve His forgiveness any more than our friends and relatives deserve ours.

So anyway, that’s what I’ve been learning recently, and I thought I’d share and encourage you to show forgiveness today.

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Why Do I Spend Time Alone with God?

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Growing up in a Christian household and in a Bible church, I have learned from a young age to have a “quiet time” with God. As I’ve grown up this time has gone through the phases or being a chore, a learning experience, a comfort, and a joy. It’s also changed as I’ve grown and matured. When I first started having a time by myself with God, I was focused on reading the Bible. That seemed to be the whole point. I was supposed to read God’s word in a quiet place and maybe make some notes about what I had read. It was similar to doing homework that my teachers had assigned.

But I clearly remember one year in high school I decided to read the whole Bible in one year. My Bible came with a handy little reading guide in the back, and I used it to read the whole thing. Well, when January 1st came I had done it, I had finished reading the whole thing. I got out my Bible again and my little sister asked me, “Why are you reading that? I thought you finished it.” And I realized that reading the Bible is a lot more than just reading a book. The point isn’t to read the whole thing and then put it back on the shelf. It helps me get to know God, it shows me what He’s like:His character and feelings. And it shows me what needs to change in my own life.

Well, on top of this reading of God’s Word, I had the clear impression that I was supposed to pray, or talk to God during my “quiet time.” Kind of like God’s Word was what He said to me, and prayer was my response to Him. So most of my time with God involved me reading, then righting down notes, and then writing out a prayer to God.

I found that after that year of reading the whole Bible, that if I ever took a day off from reading, life just seemed more difficult. I didn’t have a good attitude about things, and I didn’t feel right. I also remember a few specific times when I was really upset about something and decided to pull out my Bible to read, and found a sense of comfort and peace.

Thus I learned that a time alone with God wasn’t so much a requirement to being a Christian, but a way for me to handle all that life threw at me. No matter what crazy project I had to finish, or big decision that had to be made, or drama that was going on with a friend, I could tell God about it in my time alone with Him and know that He was listening. He cared, and as His Word promised again and again:  I was not alone, He was in control, and He was going to work everything out for the best.

This past month, I have been learning more about spending time alone with God. Our church has been practicing the discipline of Prayer and Solitude. I might have thought that my past years of learning meant that I wouldn’t get much out of this discipline, but it has been exciting for me to see how much joy and happiness is found in God’s presence. During this month I got to spend 10 days setting aside 30 minutes to just talk (out loud, which is not normal for me) to God about anything and everything. It was amazing how much more at peace I felt and how much closer to God I was after these times. Then early one morning I got to go to a park and just sit in God’s creation, marveling at all He had made and what it showed me about Him. During this time I also read His word without being in a rush or facing distractions. I had no where to be, no responsibilities to be mindful of, and I truly enjoyed just being with God.

In addition, this whole month I’ve been reading a book called “Happiness” by Randy Alcorn. This book has been almost a daily reminder of how much God loves me, how He wants me to enjoy Him and be happy in all that He has made and given me. It was truly a blessing to be reminded constantly that God wants me to be happy and can actually give me that true happiness in Himself. And spending time alone with Him is a big way of how I enter into that happiness.

So anyway, that’s what God has been teaching me recently, and I thought I’d share it. Maybe this can inspire you to spend some more time alone with God and enter into His happiness and joy.

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Bridge of Spies and Worry

Bridge of Spies

A couple weeks ago I got to watch the Bridge of Spies with my family. It was a very well done movie and if you like dramas, or historical films, you’d love this one. Tom Hanks always does a fantastic job in his movies and this one is no exception. I loved the story and the characters, but the one thing that stuck out to me from the whole movie was a line that Rudolf Abel says several times. He is a Soviet sent to America to serve his country. In his eyes he has done nothing wrong. But he gets caught up in all of the drama of the Cold War and is accused of being a spy and even threatened with death. Then he is sentenced to jail and later offered as an exchange for an American prisoner. But in all of the tough circumstances he constantly maintains a calm attitude. Throughout the movie other characters ask him, “Aren’t you worried?” and he responds calmly, “Would it help?”

And does it? I know I’ve spent a lot of my time worrying about little things that don’t even matter, and does it make a difference at all? No, not really. Worry accomplishes nothing, it helps no one. And even though I know this, I often still do it. So how do we stop it?

Well while I was in Mozambique, I shared a Bible story with the children about this exact thing. After acting out a skit with a fellow team member where she was really worried, I read them these verses:

“Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith!” -Luke 12:22-28 NIV

After sharing these verses, I prayed with the actor, and told the kids that instead of worrying, we could be thankful. Then the whole team helped the children make flowers out of pipe cleaners and construction paper. And I told them that they could write things they were thankful for on the flower petals to remind them not to worry and that God could take care of them.

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And I think that’s the real issue with worry. Worry comes when we think we are in control and we can change our circumstance by doing something. So we get ourselves all worked up thinking about all the things we can do, to make sure it goes the right way (our way). We try to predict what could go wrong and how to fix it. We might even try to make sure everyone is happy. But in the end we only wear ourselves out and often no matter how much we planned or worried or stressed, it still doesn’t come together the way we hoped.

I think the reason that Rudolf Abel was not worried, was that he knew and accepted that he was not in control. He didn’t stress about his circumstances because he knew he couldn’t change them. And I think when we do the same thing with God and accept that He is the one in control, not us, then it’s a lot easier to relax and stop worrying. Because ultimately God is in control and what He has planned is good. It may not be what we expect or want, but it is good. And I think that’s one of the big things I learned from going to Mozambique. I didn’t try to be in control while I was on the trip. I just held my plans loosely and laughed when they got changed. I didn’t worry about what I would say in front of a large group, or how a Bible lesson would come together, I simply trusted God and did my best. And it was so freeing.

So I want to encourage you today. You don’t have to worry either, God is in control of your life and He has the best plan. So trust Him, and if you’re still having trouble with worry, ask someone to pray with you.

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Ten Things a Christian Should Try

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I’ve seen a lot of blog posts or quizzes where we’re told places we should see, things we should try, or something we have to experience before we die. There’s food, landscapes, movies, books. Just ask and you’ll get hundreds of suggestions of what you should do. But I was thinking about this the other day, and a lot of the suggestions you get of what to do before you die are… empty. You do them and it’s fun, or yummy or pretty. But then it’s over, and that’s it. I started thinking through what things can we do that have eternal significance, that actually make a difference. So I started making a list of suggestions I would make to other Christians of things they should ‘try’ and hopefully continue to do. Anyway, it’s not in any specific order, but if you’re following Jesus maybe you should try some of these things.

1. Give Sacrificially

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Or in more plain terms, give till it hurts. Try giving money or time or possessions not so you feel good about yourself or don’t feel guilty, but actually for someone else. Give in a way that is hard, maybe more than you think you can give. It’s surprising what can happen when you do, and how freeing it is. It can also help remind you that your security comes from God and not what you own.

2. Pray for Everything

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I mean this not in a greedy way but in actually praying for things even when they seem trivial or impossible. Like ask God to help you find your lost car keys or pray and ask Him to restore a broken friendship, or heal someone of cancer. I won’t promise that He will say yes to every request, but He knows best how to answer your prayers and He loves it when you ask Him. You may be surprised with how He answers.

3. Read the Whole Bible

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I know some people struggle with reading their Bible at all, or prefer to read favorite sections over and over. But I can honestly say reading the whole thing has been so good for me. Sometimes reading a passage that isn’t quoted often brings new insight to me, or a little surprise, and spending time in God’s word is so refreshing and good for me. It reminds me what is true and important and often puts my life’s problems in perspective.

4. Serve at Church

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Many people at least in America can view church as a place to get their needs met, to be taught, and encouraged and in some cases, entertained. But the Church is meant to be a body with everyone helping each other. Even if it’s passing out bulletins, or hanging out with children, if you get involved with a church and seek to serve and not just be served, there is so much blessing!

5. Share the Gospel

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Share the Gospel with a friend, a coworker, a neighbor or even a stranger. There’s nothing like telling someone about what has changed your life, made you who you are and given you hope and peace. Not only is it a command but it brings so much joy and purpose into your life when you step out and share the Good News that Jesus saves sinners.

6. Rest on the Sabbath

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I know it’s hard to stop, especially in this culture, but we all need a break and God gave us the command to rest for a reason. Actually taking a break, even from good things like work or serving others, is needed. Otherwise we get burned out. Plus, changing up our routine and taking a break can help us listen to God more easily.

7. Fast

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Or more specifically fast from something that’s hard to let go of. It may be food, but it could be your cell phone, or television, or internet. Take a break from something that controls you, let go of it and don’t let it dictate your life. Often when we let go of something that distracts us constantly, and consciously choose to ignore it, it is much easier for God to speak to us.

8. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

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This could be as simple as talking to a neighbor you hardly know, or driving to that part of town that you don’t like, or even going on a mission trip across seas. But the point is, when you follow God into uncomfortable situations, it forces you to rely on Him and not yourself. And it’s a constant reminder that it’s not about you but about God. And even though it’s uncomfortable, you don’t have to worry, because God’s in control, and you might find that it’s quite fun to see God work in your uncomfortable situation.

9. Care for the Poor

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Jesus constantly told us to care for the poor, but it’s easy to forget. However, what if you actually did it? What if you packed extra water bottles in the car to pass out to the homeless, or spent a day serving at a soup kitchen? There is great blessing in obeying Jesus and caring for what He cares about. Why not try and see what He does?

10. Worship God

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Worship everywhere, not just at church. For me singing is a way to worship God and I can do it by myself in my room, or along with the radio as I’m driving, but it always reminds me of what’s important, who God is and who I am and I need that reminder more than just on Sunday mornings. Maybe you’re not a singer and staring up at a night sky, or at a beautiful sunset inspires you to praise God for His handiwork. But no matter what your preference, take time to worship God, and refocus on Him.

Well there’s my list, I hope you get a chance to try some of these, or do them again if you’ve already done them. But more than that, I hope you grow closer to God through them and become more like Jesus, because that will last through eternity.

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Great Adventure Week

So this week is my church’s Great Adventure. Since I was in Jr High, this has been a part of my summer plans. So I thought I’d share a taste of what it can be like. This is a short story I wrote about my experiences at the Bible clubs one summer and the lessons I learned. I hope you enjoy!

July 2010 167

Backyard Bible Clubs

It was a hot July morning, the kind of morning that starts out hot and just continues to get worse. The only relief is the sweet air conditioning of a building. I stared at the barren landscape before me. This was my first club as a captain, and it didn’t look pretty. A field of dead grass lay before me, with a small playground in the distance. We were in a park, a park with very little shade. A few scraggly looking trees stood off to our left. Some people were hanging out in the shade there.

“Alright, you ready?” our driver asked as he hopped out of the car.

No one answered him. We had prayed before leaving the church that morning, we had prayed before leaving the car, but I still felt like praying some more, begging God to help me not mess up. I grabbed the bag of supplies from the trunk and headed for the shade.

Our enthusiastic driver bounded over to the play scape to hang out with the kids. He was one of those guys that had graduated and wasn’t on a team anymore, but had run the clubs in the past.

I watched him run and wished that I felt as excited as him, but all I felt was nerves. It seemed like all the pressure was on me; I was the captain after all. But I took a deep breath and checked with my teammates verifying that everyone knew what their roles were for the day.

Soon we had a little game of bounce the beach ball to each other going, and more kids started to arrive. We had to take water breaks between each game because of the heat, but it seemed like the kids were having fun.

I caught Sammy’s eye, “Can you keep the game going?”

She nodded.

I ran to the bag of supplies and pulled out my Bible and the curriculum. I glanced over my story for the hundredth time and prayed again for calm nerves.

Then the kids began to gather on an old blanket.

“Who’s ready for story time?” Jake said excitedly.

The kids yelled back at him, some said “Me!” and others said “No, more games!” But eventually all were corralled onto the blanket.

“Hey boys and girls!” I said as my many times of practice kicked in. “Welcome to Backyard Bible Clubs! My name’s Lydia, and this is Jake, he’s going to hold some pictures for me. And that’s Sammy on the blanket. Today I’m going to tell you a story from God’s Word, the Bible.” I held up the Bible. “See?”

The kids nodded along and listened fairly well as I guided them through the story of Mary.

As I came to the end of the story, I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. This wasn’t so hard after all. Most of the kids actually liked the story and listened, not like the teens at camp who had made snarky comments. “Alright kids,” I finished, “Now it’s time for another game!”

* * * * *

The rest of the club went fairly smoothly, we had a few times of uncertainty, and Jake forgot a part during his gospel presentation, but for the most part, it went better than I had feared it would. As we packed up the car to head to the next club I waved at the kids, “Don’t forget to wear your cowboy outfits tomorrow for Tumbleweed Tuesday!”

The later clubs all seemed to get easier and easier. Our team began to flow, we all knew what came next, where to go, what to do, and we started to learn how to keep the kids’ attention better and better. By the evening, I felt like a pro, but I also felt exhausted. We had gotten up at seven in the morning and we didn’t get back to the church till at least nine o’clock.

And it wasn’t over, the next day we had to do it all again. Four clubs, four stories, four gospel presentations, tons of games, and crazy kids all day long. The only break we got was in the middle of the afternoon, in the heat of the day. We would come back to the church office, and relax, or practice the next day’s routine if we thought we weren’t ready. But often times, we would just take a nap, because after all those screaming kids, we needed some shut eye.
One of the best parts about the week was Wednesday. Not only did it mark the middle of the week, so we were given hope of rest and the week being completed, but it was also Water Day. So instead of suffering in the summer heat, we were able to cool off with buckets, splash balls, hoses, and water guns. Usually the club would conclude in an all-out war with every kid and leader trying to get someone else wet. It was great.

In all the commotion of the week; seeing prayers get answered for different teams, keeping up with what day was what, and just trying to remember sixty kids’ names, it was hard for me to remember that I had a birthday coming up. It was on a Friday this year, the day of Summerfest, our end of the week carnival. When my Mom pulled up to the elementary school parking lot, where our church met, we could see booths set up everywhere. It almost felt like a big party just for me. We had hotdogs, cake, and candy, played games with kids from our clubs and even had a live band playing music.

I signed up for the dunking booth so kids that knew me from clubs could have fun dunking me in the water. It was a little scary to sit on the edge of a plastic seat that you knew could go out from under you at any second. But it was also fun to get a good view of all the families walking around, and the water was refreshing when you did fall in.
All in all, that summer taught me some valuable lessons. I leaned not to be so quiet, and that even someone like me could be a leader. I also learned to pray more, as I saw God answer prayers for specific kids to be saved and for my own calmness during a club. I also learned to rely on my teammates and let them use their own gifts and talents. So that was my summer… my Great Adventure.

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Speaking of Jesus

So on this blog I often write about movies, or the novel I wrote, and occasionally other things that are on my mind. But I also read books. Now I’m not one to recommend books very often. I’ll tell you what I like about a book, but usually just stop at that. I mean I don’t know what kind of books you like, maybe you’re not into youth fiction or historical fiction or whatever. But today, I would like to recommend a book. Because it really made me think, and got me excited and well I just want to share it!

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Image Source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11333401-speaking-of-jesus

The book is Speaking of Jesus by Carl Medearis. I received it for my birthday about a month ago, and finally got it off the bookshelf a couple days ago. From the minute I started reading, I was hooked. Carl does a great job of engaging his audience with short stories from his life and giving real life examples of what he’s talking about. He’s also quite funny.

But the biggest reason I liked this book, is because what Carl talked about is something I’ve struggled with all my life. I grew up Christian, went to church, learned about God and Jesus and read my Bible. But I always felt awkward trying to share my faith, or share the gospel, or ‘evangelize.’ It wasn’t comfortable, wasn’t easy, and just never felt natural to me. I kept thinking, well God is just going to have to help me grow in this area, because it is not where I’m gifted.

But almost ironically, I loved talking about Jesus, at least with other Christians. I would get so excited that I’d start shaking when the subject came up. I love hearing stories of how Jesus is working, what He’s doing for people, how He provides, brings love and hope to dark and scary circumstances and just does what He does.

Well, in his book, Carl suggests that ‘evangelizing’ really isn’t what Jesus did, or wants us to do. We’re not supposed to go around telling people you’re wrong, I’m right. Now believe what I believe, repeat this prayer and become a ‘Christian.’ Instead Carl just talks about Jesus, tells people about what Jesus is doing, who Jesus loves, what He cares about and he avoids the word “Christian.” Instead Carl says he’s just trying to follow Jesus.

It seems so simple, yet it’s so freeing. I don’t have to explain all of the problems with Christianity, or make excuses for all the messed up people who called themselves Christians but didn’t live like Jesus at all. Instead I should just point people to Jesus and what He did and said, and try to do likewise.

Carl does a much better job of explaining it than I do, so I highly recommend reading his book, and I hope whoever reads it enjoys it as much as I did.

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The Son of God

Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Son_of_God_(film)

Recently a new movie about Jesus was released into the theaters. When I saw the preview I was intrigued. I’ve grown up as a Christian, and let me tell you, I’ve seen my fair share of religious films, documentaries and other such media.

Usually the quality was a little underwhelming, even if the content was pretty good. The only movie I remembered that had actually made it to theaters and done well was The Passion of the Christ.

But this new film looked different, it reminded me a lot of a book I read a couple of years ago: “The Jesus I Never Knew” by Philip Yancey. The book tried to take an honest look at the gospels and get an idea of what Jesus was really like, not all the things we’ve been told about him from media.

When I read the book, I discovered a Jesus with a personality, one who really cared about people, wasn’t afraid to offend people with the truth, and really enjoyed getting to the heart of an issue. He wasn’t distant and superior, talking in an elevated tone, he was down to earth, making complex things simple, and taking time to talk to anyone, no matter what society said about them.

So when I saw the preview for Son of God, I was intrigued, and wondered if this film actually would give a clear picture of who Jesus is?

Here’s a link to the preview in case you’re interested as well.

I finally made it to the theaters this past week to find the answer. And I can say that I was not disappointed. I really enjoyed the film, and the message it tried to get across that Jesus really is the Son of God. I was glad to see how closely the script stuck to the gospel accounts, even though a few changes were made.

I didn’t mind the changes because they often helped save time, and create a better story arc for a film version, and I didn’t see them as vital to the message. But if you want an exact replication of the Biblical text, you will be disappointed and will be able to spot some errors.

All in all, I loved the way this movie was set up. The filmmakers used some scenes from the Bible Series that showed on TV this past year, which was pretty cool. They also set up a good background of the events surrounding Jesus’s life, showing what was happening in Israel at this time in history.

In conclusion, I would encourage anyone interested in Jesus to see this film. I think it was well done, and showed a fuller picture of who Jesus is, what He did, and why He did it.

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