Monday, September 27, 2010

The Winds of Change

I love the change of seasons. Now before you crack a joke about how Texas doesn't actually have seasons, realize that to me, a girl who has lived in Texas most of her life, even the slightest drop in temperature is quite an event. There is something comforting and exciting about new weather, especially the sort of weather that anticipates the best holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. It's that warm fuzzy feeling, the rush of excitement that comes in knowing that good food, friends, and family are soon to come. I even rather like Halloween when I can avoid the more demonic points of the candy filled celebration, and love learning the history of the reformation. But there is a kind of change that I tend to rebel against, change I did not ask for, change that rips me from my comfortable little spot rather than warming my insides. This sort of change, while unpleasant, is most likely far better for me that the more enjoyable kind, though I despise to admit it. This sort of change tests my faith in God. It asks me if all of my talk about knowing that He is both good and sovereign is really my core belief or just a lot of head knowledge. It is so easy for me to explain to my students that the God of the universe is wise, that He works all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28) when I am happy and comfortable, but the true test comes when I lose security like a job, find myself feeling a little lost and directionless. These are the times where God asks me to live out my own words, to die to myself. So though I may feel that this uncomfortable change is some form of torture, and that I am a victim, what I know is that it is because God has the best plan for me that I might be stretched. "O Sovereign Lord, you are God! Your words are trustworthy, and you have promises these good things to your servant." 2 Samuel 7:28 God has promised His children good things. This does not necessarily mean financial wealth, health, and happiness. In fact, it means something much better than all of that, a life that will be shaped by the good God of the Universe. And when the shadows of this life have been lifted, we will see His great plan woven like a tapestry before us, the whole picture quite clear, and we will rejoice together as the body of Christ, made beautiful by Him and for Him.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Sister Site!

In hopes of actually pursuing private dance instruction and a means of income, I built a website! It's not very pretty right now, but then I'm not much of a web designer, but it does have a really cool application where you can book appointments online. Yes, I am quite easily amused. Check it out! I am working on getting pictures and more info up but for now, here it is!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Belated: Reflections on September 11

Ecclesiastes 3

A Time for Everything
1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:

2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,

3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,

4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,

5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,

7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,

8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

Our prayers should remain with those who lost and our eyes should remain on the One in whom we put our trust. Whatever we do, we should not forget.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


I want to take this time to thank everyone for their encouraging comments. However, there is one thing I would like to request: please write them in English or Spanish if you can, otherwise I don't know what you're saying! Again, thanks for reading!

Courtney out

Thursday, September 09, 2010

More on Ballet Instruction

For anyone interested, I am prayerfully considering getting certified to teach dance. At the moment I'm not entirely sure of the best place to get said certification, but I know it will at the very least give those paying me to teach their kids peace of mind. If anyone has any advice I definitely welcome it, and I always appreciate prayer. It's not something I ever thought I do but after teaching my first class on Wednesday morning I fell in love with it! Feel free to leave comments or shoot me an e-mail if you're interested!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Three Posts in One Day? Now That's Excessive...

Ok, so it's been a little ridiculous today with my ridiculous amount of posting, but I keep thinking of things to write. Heck, I don't even know if anyone is reading today! But it seems that the rain, as usual, has sparked my creative juices. This particular post isn't exactly creative, it's more asking for advice/advertising...sort of. As I think most of my readers know, I lost my paying job about a month ago and have since been volunteering for my church in Katy. As much as I love what I'm doing the lack of income has forced me to move back in with my parents and watch my money like a hawk whilst looking for a paying job. My heart is torn as I want to do the work here, but know that survival requires money, at least this side of heaven. One thing I've thought about more than once is the idea of tent making. Yes, I want to make tents to support myself. (Pause for effect) What? You don't believe me? Ok, so I don't actually want to build tents, but the idea comes from Paul. You know, the dude blinded in the road by his experience with Christ? Anyway, one of the way Paul supported his ministry, aside from the support he got from the church, was to make tents (Acts 18:1-3). The problem I have is my oh so marketable degree in Creative Writing. Yes, I would love to write a book and get published, but let's face it, that's not something I can bank on at the moment. However, because of this degree I have a very good eye for editing and so here is my semi-advertisement: if you need something edited send it my way. I have no idea what I should charge for this service and might just resolve to say 'donations appreciated' but perhaps in future I'll have a price. My second form of tent making came as a bit of a surprise. One of the moms at the church was taking her kids out of their ballet company and wanted me to teach them. So over 17 years of dance has paid off! I'll need to study up as it's been a while since I learned the terms, but that will keep me busy, and idle hands are never good. In the meantime, I'll probably be looking for other ways of supporting myself and I am always looking for suggestions! So tell your friends and neighbors that if they'd like to support a poor youth worker and they need someone to edit their writing, the writing of their children/dog/cat whatever to send it to Donations greatly appreciated. :-D

The Burning of the Quran: Reflections on Matthew 5 and Romans 5:8

I don't claim to know the true intentions of this church and I don't claim to never act foolishly myself, but the folly of this action makes me very, very sad. If our purpose is to advance the kingdom of God then we would be wise to show love to the world around us and not stir up pointless trouble. The truth is offensive enough in itself without our help.

"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Matthew 5:43-48

We have to earn the right to be heard, and this is really not doing the trick. In all things we have to remember that "God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8

1 Corinthians 8:9 and Acts 16:3: Reflections on Freedom

"Paul wanted to take [Timothy] along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in the area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek." Acts 16:3

For the past month or so, I have been doing a study of Acts. This was very exciting for me because I am trying to read all the way through the bible and finally finished going through all the gospels. Acts is such a neat book because it chronicles the beginnings of what we would call the Christian church. Through out we see God building up His church, and that He uses very flawed people to advance His kingdom, which is quite a relief for me the more I understand how truly flawed I am! In one of the recent passages I read (Acts 15) the apostles were dealing with the question of circumcision and whether or not they should require Gentile Christians to have the ritual performed. Their conclusion was that there was no reason to burden their new brothers in this way because it was not necessary for salvation. In fact, Paul goes into great detail in Galatians and his other letters about how salvation is based on faith and not works. So when I got to Acts 16 where Timothy (a Gentile/Jewish believer) gets circumcised I was initially confused. Why, after all of that discussion about not requiring Gentile believers to have this done, does this young man get circumcised? Is this just a contradiction? A typo? In light of 1 Corinthians 8 I would say none of the above.

What first clued me into their (Timothy, Paul, and Barnabas) reasoning was the context: "because of the Jews who lived in the area." On their journey, these men would encounter a great majority of Jews who they would be witnessing to. At first I thought about how very little Paul seemed to care about what others thought and how he even reprimanded Peter for avoiding his Gentile brothers at one point because they hadn't been circumcised, but then I remembered 1 Corinthians 8. This particular passage deals with eating food sacrificed to idols, something Jewish law would have condemned. Paul tells the church in Corinth that "food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do." Moreover, he reminds them that "an idol is nothing at all in the world, and that there is no God but one." Therefore, eating such food would have no true, eternal condemnation for them. But then he adds a stipulation, which I believe answers my question regarding Acts 16. Paul says, "Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol's temple, won't he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols?...Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall."

Rather than looking at Acts 16 and claiming some sort of hypocrisy or contradiction, I see it as a fleshing out of Paul's belief that though we have freedom in Christ we must exercise it carefully. He knew that if Timothy remained uncircumcised it would be a stumbling block to the Jews they witnessed to, and found it far better to defer to their weakness then flaunt their freedom. So often we sit in judgement of those around us, including our Christian brothers and sisters. I do this myself on a daily basis and lately God has really been convicting me about it. I've come to the conclusion that we should always err on the side of grace, remembering what we've been forgiven and chose to forgive others. I don't mean to say that we shouldn't call sin sin or that we should live in chains; there is absolutely a time and a place to humbly confront our Christian brothers and sisters about sin and we should always remember that we are free from the bondage of the law, but our lives should always be about living in love toward one another, even if it means we have to give up some of our freedoms.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Title Change

In the past year or so most of my blog posts have been entitled 'reflections' of some sort and I came to the conclusion that the title of my blog needed a change. It's not anymore creative than my original name, but I tend to like it better. Maybe it's less cheesy? I don't know, but I hope that with this new more specific title I might be a bit more consistent. Hopefully? Maybe?

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Generous Spirit: A Somewhat Political Reflection

"Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God." Acts 10:4

Some weeks ago in my bible study, we discussed giving to the poor. The leader of the study talked about two groups of people, one that cared for the poor but did not care about scriptural reasoning behind it, and one group that tended to believe the poor were in their position because of laziness alone and did not deserve help. I found, and have always found, myself a bit at odds with this dilemma and struggling with the question of whether or not to give to the man with the sign on the side of the road. Often I'm told by my liberal friends that conservatives do not care about the poor at all, that they are stingy and far too individualistic and down right selfish. On my end I've always said that the liberal side is way too idealistic and and a bit self righteous themselves. But recently, I've discovered a far better solution to my own judgmental reactions and my dilemma regarding the poor. It most certainly is not an easy solution, nor one that I have all the answers to, and quite honestly I don't even know how to begin except on a small scale and through prayer.

My solution came with the realization that my main problem with wellfare is the fact that all it is is another form of slavery. The big government sitting on its high throne in Washington is convinced that the only way to solve poverty is to throw money at the problem, enslaving the poor by keeping them in thrall to their new slave masters. Having gone in to politics possibly with good intentions to help people (I am being perhaps overly optimistic here) these politicians are too far removed from the actual problems to do anything productive about it. (I could got into a spiel about how they are really in politics in order to gain power but I would prefer to remain somewhat naive.) The result, unfortunately, is that at the local level, the level where action could truly bring about change, people have become lazy, believing that the big government is some sort of magic genie and that if we give them enough money they can make all of our problems (including having to look at the hurting people around us on the street) go away.

Change is absolutely necessary, but the government in Washington is not the place for it. In fact, it is the Church and local charities that really need to step up. Instead of trusting those too far removed to really do anything good, we should be working to find the hopeless and the hurting, train them for jobs, feed them, clothing them, helping them physically, emotionally, spiritually, and not just assume that money will solve all of their problems (Matthew 9:36). It is a tough, painful job that will require the sacrifice of time and money and sometimes our own mental stability, but it is something we are called to do, especially as the church.

34"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

37"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' Matthew 25:34-40

If for no other reason, we should be reaching out to serve others because in doing so we are serving God. I see it starting in my church here in Katy, and I pray it will continue. I pray that God's kingdom will be advanced so that the world sees change, sees that we care about the whole person and not just their financial situation. But it has to start locally, and I don't just mean our hometown, it has to start in our hearts. Pray to the Lord, as I will pray, for generous hands and a gracious heart.