Monday, August 31, 2015

Hodge-Podge of Randomness

As I opened this new post, I noticed my serve told me I have written 221 posts, and I was like, "Yay, I like that number." Now hopefully, my audience is geeky enough to realize why that is a big deal.

But this is not a day to talk about the virtues of the world's favorite highly functioning sociopath because he actually isn't very virtuous. Oh, and it has nothing to do with politics and culture in America today.

In other news, actually relevant to American culture, the sport of legalized violence is starting up in two weeks. AND I AM SUPER EXCITED! Because I like football despite the fact that it really kind of is that whole legalized violence thing. Yeah, whatever. Also, concussions are kinda bad. Really bad. But I refuse to play it for that reason.

Of course, that doesn't mean I'm free from concussions. I have seen a member of my debate team last year who got a concussion while on a debate tournament. Of course, that was because she was recovering from a concussion, and we had an fender-bender. The whiplash did not do her well.

Now if that doesn't float your boat, TV series news seasons should begin pretty shortly, and I think that's pretty swell. It's time for another season of Castle, Doctor Who, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Doctor Who. Oh, I already said that one didn't I? If anyone has any idea on how I could get my hands on the first three episodes of Agent Carter, I would greatly appreciate it.

In a completely different section of the world, the presidential campaign continues to bore its way on. I know, I'm not supposed to have this attitude as the beacon of stay informed at all costs, but it's far too early to know anything that's going on in the race. And I really want to get more involved when I have to worry about fewer candidates.

But there are some interesting tidbits. First, South Carolina is requiring those on the primary ballot to rule out running as a third party. A very good political move for the Republicans; this ensures that Trump must agree to support the GOP nomination if when he doesn't win the candidacy. Of course, one can and maybe should question the legitimacy of keeping someone off the ballot as a form of political manipulation.

Also, why is no one covering the Democratic race yet? It seems that even as Hillary Clinton's credibility with the media consistently gets worse, no one wants to cover any of the better options (admittedly many of those aren't better options, but there are definitely a few) that the Democrats actually have. In a world where liberal media reigns supreme, this is actually quite shocking as it seems disadvantageous to the party's chances next November.

And finally, can we just take time to acknowledge that football season is about to start?

Friday, August 28, 2015

Why Don't You Just Ask?

It's truly the strange things in life that lead you to wonderful realizations of God's grace and lessons in your life. It's always great when you want to be shown as weak, so you can see God's strength, and God immediately provides a way, that also doesn't tear you down.

I love when I can see my own powerlessness without even a hint of suffering because simply a question I would love to have answered is left just out of my power to answer. A situation that I don't understand cannot be explained and I am the kind of person who hates that. Yet I am powerless to do anything about it. At all.

And that is just absolutely great! Because in a moment where I pray that I would like to see my weakness and the next day, I have no idea what's going on, just really shows me that I am not in control...ever. And that God is always in control.

And that is relieving and amazing and just an awesome "God moment." Of course, you want more details about what is going on, but I'm afraid I can't tell you. Not just because it would be wrong for me to divulge, but also because I don't have the information to divulge. And I love it.

So here's a crazy thought. If you want to grow in your relationship with the Lord, and you know the obstacle that is in your way. Why don't you just ask the Lord to work through it? It seems simplistic, but I at least was surprised to see that as an option in my life to begin with. Maybe today, I speak to someone else who is like me in a similar situation.

Monday, August 24, 2015

How not to Study with the Original Languages

Hey, here we are. I remembered the day of the week and properly prepared for a blog post idea. Because of my failure as of late, I would like to share with you a cool video.

Yeah, so that's what happens when you put a song through Google Translate a bunch of times. Funny. I guess Google Translate isn't very good, or words in different languages don't have a one-to-one correlation, or both. Probably both.

But anyway, onto our content today, I want to start with a story. Last Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending the wedding of a good friend of mine. The wedding was beautiful. But I am sad to say the officiate of the wedding did little to impress me.

He starts talking about this arboretum that was apparently important to the couple, and that was just dandy, but then he goes on to explain that this arboretum if we went to the Greek would be translated as Paradeisou, which happens to just be the same word that is translated for the Garden of Eden in the Septuagint, which is obviously a picture of heaven, so now let's talk about heaven.

Wait, what? I don't understand how you can go from English to Greek to English and expect something to be ok. I mean, yeah an arboretum and a garden are similar things and you could make that case from the English text, but in that case, why complicate the matter and go to Greek in the first place?

By now, you have already seen that my fun video isn't quite as random as I tried to make it seem. It actually fits in with the topic today. Greek (or Hebrew) do not possess a one-to-one correlation with English, nor with each other, nor with any other language. This means that it is not good for us to take words in and out of one language and into another because that can drastically alter the meaning of the text.

Maybe sometimes, it's better not to go into the original tongues at all if you're going to keep going back and forth. Maybe one should be careful about talking about how we get our word martyr from the term martyrio that means witness. Because let's just be honest. English is a language that was developed long after Greek and its meaning of words had no effect on the Greek itself.

Or maybe more importantly, we shouldn't see the original languages as a catch-all for every interpretational question. It's not a perfect thing. It still will leave some questions, and many times, the word of God has been faithfully preserved so that the translation is actually the way it should be.

But Greek and Hebrew is very much different in nuance at times and in understanding and should still be studied as often as possible, but not to the extent that you believe them to be catch-alls or that you use them as tools to manipulate everything into your gain.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Purpose of Man: Love God

Yeah, so this is better than Monday, but hopefully, I don't have another moment in chapel, where I think, "Oh, this would make a good blog post idea. OH, I didn't publish one today!" They really aren't fun.

You've heard me say before that the purpose of man is to love God and enjoy Him forever, and through that, we glorify Him. This is the essence of something I am desperately seeking to know. How does one die to self and live for Him? If He is all that it takes to serve Him, then what effort must we do? What is our part? How does dying to self actually look in our life on a day-to-day basis?

And with today's chapel message, I begin to be more and more convinced that the main thing we need to do is just get to know and appreciate God more and more. As we study more and more about Him, and spend more and more time with Him, serving Him and living appropriately just starts to flow.

Not that it becomes easy or that our nature suddenly stops wanting to sin, but we start to more successfully abide in Him. We surrender to what He wants, and we're already all ready to accept His grace immediately when we sin and move on to serve Him greater.

So how do we do die to self? By fully knowing and understanding God, and asking Him to grant us a love and desire for Him. At least, that's part of it. I'll let you know what else the Lord teaches me on this subject as time goes on.

Monday, August 17, 2015

I'm Sorry... I'm So So Sorry

So it's Monday. I remembered that, and truly figured out that I don't know why I didn't realize that thing about dates last night or this morning, but yeah.

Here's the thing about our presidency that you should actually know before you consider the qualifications that a candidate has for the job.

His job is not to manage the country. His job is not to fix the economy. His job is not domestic at all. His job is to be a figurehead and diplomat in foreign policy. That is his job. We cannot let that go and say that a candidate can hire good people in foreign policy because then what are we actually making a decision based upon?

That is the number one concern for me because that is the president's job. That's why I am uncomfortable with even someone as genius as Dr. Ben Carson because his foreign policy experience is lacking.

And don't get me started on Donald Trump. His abrasive attitude would not be good as the figurehead who contacts and works with foreign nations.

But that's where we should look. Because guess what? Foreign policy... is the President's...wait for it... job.

(Another important consideration is morality as well, but that's just because moral leaders is good for a nation, and not the job of a presidency to begin with.)

Friday, August 14, 2015

What is the Lord Doing in your Life?

On the last day of my internship, the staff at my church did something great. It was a bonding time for all pastoral staff members, interns, and that one random IT guy who's super cool. Actually, we all left for it on Tuesday immediately after work, and then stayed until Wednesday at 2.

It was a campout and it actually cancelled my last day of the internship, but all was well. The break and fellowship was worth it, and was encouraging.

One thing we did was sit around a campfire and talked about all the little unexpected things that brought us all right where we were ministering (even if just for a summer) at First Baptist Church of Milford.

Something was in common surrounding all of these accounts - the Lord used small things in our life over which we had no control to put us right where He wanted. A place we loved more than anything we could ask for, but that we would never have expected.

Whether it was getting offered a four-year internship in the same office that had told you that you couldn't stay in the school any longer just two years prior, to getting interviewed for a position as a 1-year internship (which unbeknownst to you will end with you as the youth pastor) while getting ready to propose to a member of the church, or maybe even being a rep for a college coming to a church and exclaiming that you would love to serve in a ministry like this, just to find that 8 months later, you would be doing just that.

Yes, there were lots of interesting stories, and they were all encouraging of what the Lord had done and is doing in all of our lives. And I trust that the same is true in the lives of most of my readers.

You know what else? It is indicative that oftentimes, you just don't know what the Lord has in store for you, and you should never be so confident that you have it all figured out. Ever.

And since you're probably curious, this was my testimony (with slightly different wording choices and detail inclusion).

What brought me to this church? Well, I was saved in this church. It is the only church that I have ever been a member of.

What brought me to intern at this church? It wasn't my idea. This summer, I found my schedule very busy, and I just wanted a part-time job to give some money; nothing too much of a time commitment. But the first Sunday night after I got back from school there was this crazy ordination service at my church, where four members of the pastoral staff were ordained all at once.

I now know all four of those men well, but at the time there were two that I particularly knew and who had been my Sunday School teacher and had an impact on my life. I wanted to be sure to congratulate them on this and wish them well.

So I did, but when I talked with the Associate Pastor, things were a little different than expected. For some reason, I kept having to speak about my life and not his. He asked me about college, and about my summer plans.

I expressed them as they currently stood, and then he asked me if I was going to get a job. Well, yes, Mr Wright, I would love to, but I don't know how that would look since I will be out of town for two weeks of the summer.

"We have a summer internship program available if you're interested. We'd be able to accommodate your weeks off as long as you gave us advance notice. Just call me if you're interested."

Well, I prayed about it for a day or two, but it was obvious from the start that God wanted me to have this internship. This internship which quite figuratively fell into my lap (grammar nazis that word not sound as good in that context...).

So I took the internship, and it has been a fun ride. From the very start, it was clear this internship would be a great experience, and I know I have learned a lot. Being with the other two summer interns (their names, in case you're interested are Ryan and Ryan) was great. I loved getting to know them better as we all got to know the program together. Starting next summer would have been a different dynamic because they (if they come back) would already have had the experience and we wouldn't learn it altogether.

I am glad the Lord orchestrated it so that I could have this opportunity this summer. Even if it does mean, I'm suddenly excited about returning to Cedarville, so I can sleep in two extra hours each day. I even think there is enough for me to learn from this church to do a summer internship next year. I've already started praying about it.

Monday, August 10, 2015

The End of the Summer is upon Us

It's the beginning of that one time of year. The year where the relaxing elements of summer (or the busyness of your summer internship) is about to come to an end. Over the next month, schools will be back in session, which means life returns to a normal routine for anyone under the age of college graduation (because at this age, we don't care about numbers just grades).

I get the season started with my internship ending on Wednesday, my last CLEP test on Thursday, and my first meeting for the school year on Friday. I'm pretty excited about what is in store for this upcoming school year, and thankful that Cedarville's schedule involves a lot of downtime the first few days on campus.

But as at any time a routine is about to change, it is important to remember your priorities and perspective. It is now that we begin to make a schedule for our upcoming year, and that schedule needs to involve God.

Yes, I know, I right about this every year, but I believe that's because I need to be reminded every year, and I can imagine that others do as well. When you hit into the structure of a schedule, if you don't schedule time for God, it won't happen.

That of course doesn't mean that you only spend time with God during that scheduled time, but it does mean that you have that time or else no other time will be had ever. So remember that as you start thinking about your schedule for next year, you be intentional about your walk with God.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Idol In Your Heart

We all know that idolatry is wrong, and very few of us have gods or statues in our house that we would worship. And of course, we've all heard that idols can be actual statues or just anything we worship other than God.

It is important to remember that that is an application from the text and not the meaning of the text. That does not mean that it is wrong to preach or teach idolatry texts in this way; the application is solid, but I worry about the confusion of the two.

In the book of Ezekiel, we hear about Israelites who have created "idols in their heart." The expression seems to indicate an emphasis on the dedication to the idols that have been made. This passage then fits best with such an application of idolatry as what we worship.

And the passage speaks rather interestingly about it. Ezekiel 14:3-8 reads,
"Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face: should I be enquired of at all by them? Therefore speak unto them, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Every man of the house of Israel that setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to the prophet; I the Lord will answer him that cometh according to the multitude of his idols; That I may take the house of Israel in their own heart, because they are all estranged from me through their idols. Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God; Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations. For every one of the house of Israel, or of the stranger that sojourneth in Israel, which separateth himself from me, and setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to a prophet to enquire of him concerning me; I the Lord will answer him by myself: And I will set my face against that man, and will make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of my people; and ye shall know that I am the Lord."

Wherefore should I be enquired of at all by them? If they worship someone other than me in their hearts, why should I take the time to speak with them? They don't really want me to, or else they would worship me and not someone else.

That is God's just response. Those who come to Him while serving someone else are not ones that He will be speaking to. He still loves them, but they are not ready to truly get to know Him.

So maybe if you're not getting something from the Lord, it's because you are worshipping something other than God.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Found: Ebola Vaccine

Good news in the light of the people who have been dying all over the world. Wait, you had forgotten about that a little, hadn't you? Oh well, the good news is now you don't have to worry about it too much because there is a vaccine that is probably going to squelch the ebola virus where it stands.

This of course assumes that the last few tests go well, that the virus doesn't adapt too quickly before the vaccine gets mass produced and that it can be made available to the poor classes that seem to be the most effected by the disease. But all in all, those seem like decent assumptions.

Ebola is not as highly adaptive as those in the collegiate debate community would have you believe (of course, nothing is as bad as the debate community makes it seem). The whole reason the vaccine is being developed is to help people and not exploit them for greedy lucre. And the first few tests have gone amazingly well.

Here's to being cautiously optimistic.