Live, Move. Have our Being.

Photographer: Veo_ of flickr under CC2.0.  This new work is released under a similar CC3.0 license.

Note: Happy advent, everyone!  I'm thinking of doing something special with the blog, but I haven't settled on anything yet.  Do you or your church do anything special for the Advent season?

Edit: I re-uploaded the picture.  I'm not sure whether the issue before was because of a glitch or not, but the use of the photo is in accordance with CC2.0, and the disclaimer on the sidebar about not receiving endorsement from photographers applies to this as well as all other posts.  Since this post is in accordance with the CC2.0 license under which the photo was released and because I haven't been contacted by the photographer, I will assume that the issue before was a glitch.

Gluttony and Consumerism: A Warning

James 5:1-6 "A Warning to the Rich"
    1Come now,(A) you rich, weep and howl for the(B) miseries that are coming upon you. 2(C) Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. 3Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire.(D) You have laid up treasure(E) in the last days. 4Behold,(F) the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and(G) the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of(H) the Lord of hosts. 5(I) You have lived on the earth in luxury and(J) in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in(K) a day of slaughter. 6You have condemned and(L) murdered(M) the righteous person. He does not resist you.

I came across this in my reading today (Tuesday) and found it really sobering in light of the Thanksgiving/ Black Friday holidays.  (And, yes, it seems that Black Friday has become a "holiday" of its own.)  I have nothing to say at this time about American society or culture at large, but here are some personal reflections I think would be helpful as we enter the holiday season.

1) Everything I have is God's.
2) Everything I receive is God's.
3) There is no merit in me to deserve anything I have or anything I receive.
4) Gold and silver will corrode.  The moth will destroy, the thief will steal, and the fire will consume.
5) Slavery, fraud, and coercion still exist.  There are more slaves today than when the Atlantic slave trade was active.  The laborer cries out for his wages, which have been held back.
6) Have I been living to indulge myself?  To fatten my heart as others cry out to God?
7) Do I value righteousness over personal comfort?
 8) What steps do I need to take to defend the widow, the orphan, and the oppressed and to live righteously?

What other personal reflections do you think we should add to this list?

A Cerebral Passion

Photographer: sebastien b. of flickr under CC2.0, and this new work is hereby released under a similar CC3.0 license.

Note: I always find Thanksgiving posts difficult to write.  I even wrote Friday's post before I wrote this one.  Historically, Thanksgiving has been a difficult holiday for me.  It always seemed like an arbitrary day where people get together and force themselves to feel warm and fuzzy about things that they weren't particularly happy about the other 364 days of the year.  Thoughts like Well at least I have _____________ or Well at least things aren't like _____________ would come to mind, and then I would try to convince myself why I really should be happy about whatever I did have.

That's when I started thinking about thankfulness itself.  I think we've reduced it to a mere warm and fuzzy feeling (much like our concept of forgiveness), but it's much more than that.  There's a reason why we should feel warm and fuzzy, and that's because there is some knowledge of a fact or set of facts that has stirred our passions because of its immense or extraordinary nature.  And if we don't feel thankful, it is not our feelings that are lacking but rather our understanding of the facts.

I've met people who are genuinely thankful for Christ, but I've also met people who felt that they should be thankful but weren't really "feeling it."  These people may know the facts of the Gospel, but their understanding of those facts is lacking.  They don't understand the immensity and extraordinary-ness of it.  The utter mind-boggling-ness that God cloaked his Deity in the form of a baby that cries and poops and needs milk, grew up knowing but resisting every form of temptation, died one of the most horrific deaths humans have ever devised, experienced the infinite wrath of the Father multiplied by the number of people (who hate and despise Him, by the way) who He would bring into His kingdom and into a relationship with Himself, and furthermore gave them His very own Spirit as a counselor, guide, and promise of their future inheritance that they would never be alone.

Examine the facts, and let your heart follow.  Have a happy Thanksgiving.


Panel 2 Photographer: fodor of stock.xchng.

Notes: I hope you read all the text at the bottom in case I don't show up for a few days.  Otherwise, you can probably expect normal content to resume for Wednesday's post.

Tetris, Parables, and Missions

I play a lot of Tetris (which explains my Tetris  related posts that pop up from time to time.  The site I play on provides a weekly mission that you can complete for points, such as "perform X back-to-back combos" or "beat Y opponents in a multiplayer game."  This week's mission was to perform 15 Tetrises in a single game.

15 Tetrises.  That's manageable.  I started the game and set up my Terminos (the little block things).  1 Tetris.  2 Tetrises...3...4...

The first few were easy enough, but as I racked up points, the game sped up.  I couldn't solely perform Tetrises, so I cleared a few single lines here and there, with the occasional double, and kept making Tetrises when I could.

Before I knew it, I completely lost track of how many Tetrises I had performed.

The game sped up so fast, that I stopped trying to make Tetrises altogether.  I was just frantically trying my best to simply not "die."

After awhile of proceeding like this, a few thoughts came to me:
1) Why am I playing this game? (I normally play a multiplayer game instead of a single player game)
Oh yeah, I'm doing this week's mission.

2) What was the mission?
..................Oh wow.  I don't even remember.  But I had better keep clearing these lines or else I'm going to die.  What was that mission?  Oh yeah...I think I was supposed to perform Tetrises.

3) Well the game's going way too fast to set up the board now.  How many Tetrises did you make already?
I have no clue.  I guess I'll just have to wait until I die to find out.

It turned out that I did meet the requirement for Tetrises, but you probably don't care about that.  That's not the point of this story.

The point is that I had a mission (literally), and I started to complete it but then I got busy.  Things became really fast-paced, and I was just trying to survive.  And in the midst of the hustle and bustle, I completely forgot what the mission was.  Completely.  And at the end, I wasn't even sure if I accomplished what I was supposed to do; I had to wait in suspense to see if the computer would tell me "well done, good and awesome Tetris person."

I'm laying it on a bit thick here, but only because I think it's important.  What is our mission here on Earth?  To love God with our hearts, souls, and strength.  To love others as ourselves.  To defend the widow and the orphan.  To proclaim the Gospel to Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the world.  To pick up our crosses daily.  To abide in Jesus as He abides in us.  To put off the old man and put on the new.  To act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly before God.

Friends, this is a lot more than performing 15 Tetrises.  For starters, these missions are never actually "complete."  And on top of these, we also each have our own missions.  There are good works that have been set out in advance for us to do.


So pause for a bit and think about what your mission is.  Have you forgotten it?  Have you been making every effort to pursue it?  Or has life gotten too fast-paced with Terminos piling up all around you?

And regardless of how you answer those questions, whether positively or negatively, remember this: praise to Jesus Christ who gives us the victory.



I double-checked the thumbnail, and it worked fine.  Fingers crossed that it still works when this goes live!  Click once to enlarge, then again for the full size.

Photographer: tome213 of

Demolition: The Fear of the Lord

Alternate title: More than a band-aid

Photographer: Gare and Kitty Wilkin of flickr under CC2.0, and  this new work is hereby released under a similar CC3.0 license.

The three people I never want(ed) to be

Preface: For the purposes of this post, I’m working within a framework where the issues at hand are ones of preference, not major doctrines or sin issues.

There are three people I never want(ed) to be:

1) The person who disagrees with the small group leader on almost everything.
2) The person who feels that they’re not getting much out of church services and meetings.
3) The person who becomes bitter and 1) stays, badmouthing the church and creating division in the local church or 2) leaves, and badmouths the first church at the next church and creating division in the global church.

You can’t really help being the first two if it happens.  You might agree with the doctrine of a church, but you might not agree with the doctrine, emphases, or practices of your small group leader.  The probability of this becomes higher as the church’s standards for leaders or number of people available to be leaders become lower.  You also sometimes can’t help it if you aren’t getting much out of services and meetings.  (Of course, one needs to be careful here.  Sometimes our own pride and our sin get in the way of what the Spirit wants us to hear.)  But if a certain style or philosophy of preaching or small group meetings isn’t to one’s taste or expectation, even someone attending with a good faith effort to learn and glean from the messages and fellowship may be left with not much to work with.

However, you can help not becoming the third person.  It’s really easy to become the third person after becoming the first two, but don’t.  Seriously.  Just don’t do it.

If you become one of the first two people, you might want to seriously consider quietly switching churches.  Or, as with my case, you might sincerely and inexplicably feel you're supposed to stay with a particular church despite realizing you’ve become one of the first two people (or both).  In that case, you should listen to the prompting of the Spirit.  But whether you stay or whether you go, bitterness and impatience and badmouthing has no place in the heart of a Christian, and it definitely has no place in the church.

Things essential to keep in mind:

1) The church doesn’t exist to cater to your individual needs and expectations.  The church exists to glorify God.
2) The church is full of sinners.  Don't expect people to rise to your definition of perfection.
3) You’re a sinner, too.  Shocker.
4) Not everyone approaches Christianity with the same presuppositions about Christian living.  Differences in approach are not always wrong or bad.  Be Bible-based and open-minded.
5) Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but consider others better than yourselves.
6) You exist (among other things) to serve the people in your local church.  If you think you're so high and mighty and better than your current church (which you aren't...see #5), then go and serve others using your "superior" experience and knowledge.
7) Jesus is really, really, really patient with you.  Any amount of patience that the aforementioned service calls for is a peppercorn compared to that.

As I said before, I love my new church and I love the people at my new church.  I have been given the opportunity to fellowship with a lovely group of women who love the Lord.  It's just that we don't always agree or approach the Bible or Christian living in the same way.  This list contains things I need to remind myself of, but I don't think it's limited to people who are in my position.  Really, this is a very small list about Christian living in the church in general. 

Have your views ever conflicted with church leadership?  How did you handle the difference(s) between you?  How do you feel about your current church?  What about the local church do you need to remind yourself about?

Not just semantics

Photographer: Cobalt of flickr under CC2.0.


Photographer: somadjinn of stock.xchng.

Text: I ran across some old poetry of mine


200 posts ago, I was walking home late from lab and looked up into the smog and light-polluted sky.  I've always loved stargazing, even though I could never quite make out the constellations aside from Orion's belt.  That night, Orion's belt was the only three stars I could see.  I thought I saw a fourth, but it turned out to be an airplane.

Life's sometimes like that.  We know the stars are there, but we can't quite see them.  We know there's something or Someone bigger than ourselves, but our view is obscured by pollution, sometimes from others and sometimes our own.  Usually it's a combination of both.

That's when I decided to start this blog.  It's small and simple, but it's mine.  My very own corner of the Internet, but it's mine to share.  Thanks for letting me share.  Some of you have been with me since the beginning and others of you are new; thanks for stopping by.  I hope that you have been blessed.

I hope you subscribe to my blog, and for those of you who do, I'd like to direct you attention to the new sidebar on the right (and for those who don't, there's a "subscribe" button on the right, too!).  I've changed some things and also added a "Popular Posts" widget.  I'm not sure why these particular posts are the most popular, except maybe for the timing when Reclaiming the Mind recommended TSN, and I got a giant influx of traffic.  At any rate, the most popular posts to date are:

I'd also like to point out the fact the top-googled post is Being meek does not mean being a doormat, mainly because by the way the phrases were spelled it seems that a younger crowd has been looking for it and also because I particularly like that post (and plan to do a remix at some point.)

You've been listening to me talk, but I'd like to hear from you.  How long have you been reading?  How did you hear about TSN?  What's your favorite post?  What would you like to see in the future?

Call Your Senators!

UNICEF estimates that 3,287 children are trafficked every day.

The Child Protection Compact Act (CPCA) is legislation designed to help protect children in targeted countries from slavery and sex trafficking. It was close to passing in the Senate, but Congress adjourned for elections in early October without finishing the job.

On November 15, Congress reconvenes for a “lame duck” session, giving us a final, unexpected chance to pass the CPCA. Commit to calling your Senators on November 15- they need to hear from constituents who care about ending child trafficking if they are going to make the CPCA a priority.

To find how to contact your senators, visit the Senate website and search for your state in the upper right-hand corner.

For more information about the call-in day and to see a sample script, follow the link in the title of this post. I've done this before, and it only takes two minutes. It's a quick and easy way to help children around the world.

Thinking is Easy

What goes through your mind when I say "The Gospel”?  What do you think of?  I assume I write to a largely Christian audience.  Words like “crucifixion,” “justification,” “redemption,” and other “-tions” may come to mind when thinking about the Gospel.  But what do you feel?

We are often taught to be wary of our emotions.  As the pastor/ elder of my church once said, “YOUR FEELINGS ARE WRONG!”  Indeed, they can be, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t feel.  In fact, feeling is a large part of who we are.  They constitute part of the way we reflect the very image of God.

Most of us know the facts of the Gospel.  But how do we feel about it?  Gratitude? Joy?  Excitement?  Or has the Gospel become mundane?

There have been times when others have shared the Gospel with me and their eyes lit up.  Their talked faster.  They started using the arms more.  Some of them cried a bit.  It was in those times that my own faith was strengthened, encouraged, and emboldened.

How do you feel about the Gospel?  Does the way you convey those feelings encourage the believers around you?  And what about non-believers?

"I tried to find a cure for the pain"

Photographer: 4Cheungs of Flickr under CC2.0, and this derivative work is redistributed under a similar CC3.0 license.

Title/ Text: Cure for the Pain by Jon Foreman
So I'm not sure why it always flows downhill
Why broken cisterns never could stay filled


Photographer: danyela of stock.xchng.

Note: I saw some old friends that I haven't seen in a really long time, and a lot has changed over the years. I was just thinking about how sometimes we treat friendship as a tangible thing- something that we create and something that also changes us. I haven't come to any conclusions, but it's just the latest thing I've been mulling over.