Friday, July 22, 2011

I Stand In Awe of You!

This week, I spent a couple of days at a Christian camp here in PA that I went to for quite a few years when I was in high school. The camp is in a beautiful state park up on a mountain. From our side of the mountain, there is this incredible view where you can see into at least four or five states (There’s a picture of it to the left. But I have to say that it doesn’t do the real scenery any justice!). In the afternoon before dinner, all of the campers and some of the counselors sit on the side of the hill to sing praises to God, and to look out onto His amazing creation.

The first night I went up this week, we all laid on the side of the hill to look up at the stars, and a guy that I’ve known from up here for a few years did a sort of crash course on the night sky for us. Alongside this, He helped us try to see the power of God in the immense expanse of beautiful twinkling stars, planets and galaxies. He referenced this verse:

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.”-Psalm 19:1

Nature is truly amazing. When I see the stars, watch storms, look out over the ocean, or even stand on the side of that mountain, I am truly filled with awe and amazement. Sometimes, I find myself getting teary eyed at how beautiful it all is. When I see these things I honestly can’t even begin to understand as to why some people deny God’s existence.

All of the things that we see on our planet and in the rest of the universe are there to prove God’s existence, as was said in the verse above and a few others as well.

Romans 1:20 says: “For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”

I encourage you that when you find yourself again in the midst of His creation, to just stand there for a while, and take in everything around you. Look out at everything and allow yourself to just be filled with awe of our God and everything He’s created. We all need to be reminded of God’s might and power, and all that he can do. He is truly an Awesome God.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Stress??? WHAT STRESS????

Being on vacation has its perks. For one thing, it gives you some good time to think…and lots of thinking have I definitely done. For a while, I’ve had something on my mind that has been weighing on me heavily, and until I get it taken care of, it’ll keep bothering me (so, therefore, of course, some of my friends keep badgering me to do something about it. Ha ha). And, as I write this, the time is quickly approaching for me to take care of it.

I am definitely quite nervous about what will happen when I open the box in a bit. I think what is bothering me the most about this is the unknown of everything. From one second, to one minute, to one hour to the next, it can definitely be uncertain. Sure you can say you’re going to do this, or that; but as for the consequences of that decision, you never really know what’s going to happen. Who’s to say that you’ll even get to do what you say you’re going to do…and never even know what those consequences could be? (James 4:14)

Then, you wonder, “Why am I flipping out over this? I don’t even know what’s going to happen!” But that’s just it. We worry and worry about things when we don’t even know what will happen. Even when we think we know, the outcome most of the time surprises us (I’ve found this out quite often).

As young people, we have quite a bit to worry about! We worry about school; pleasing our parents; we worry about making the right choices; we worry about the choices our friends make; we worry about family issues; we worry about our futures; we worry about issues we have; we worry about our feelings for a special someone…the list goes on and on; and sometimes the issues are worse than others.

Sometimes, I will admit, it gets hard to remember sometimes that I have a God and father who is MUCH bigger than my problems. We worry, worry, and worry our heads off, and not remember that He is there to help us in our decisions and guide us. Sure, there’s a very good chance that we’ll encounter hurt, and pain (that’s a part of life) but He is going to help us grow from it. (Philippians 4:13)

We must all, as Christians, come to the realization that God is looking out for us, and is making a way for us to get through our lives (Romans 8:28, Jeremiah 29:11). It’s hard sometimes, but we have to trust Him, and allow Him to get us through the tough stuff. We may worry some, but we don’t need to worry so much that it consumes our entire being and allows us to forget that God is looking out for us.

Jesus warned about worrying in Matt. 6:25-34. To sum up what He said, He said that we shouldn’t worry because if we are living for God, then He will take care of us. Sure, He never said it would be easy, but, He said he’d give us what we need and help us.

I’ve been trying to relax about the things I need to do. I’m doing what I know I need to do, and He’ll see to it that the rest gets taken care of. It’s not easy because so many of us try to take on the weight of the world, but it’s such a comfort to know that we don’t really have to.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Stars in Entertainment

Review of Matched, by Ally Condie

(This is a new segment in my blog that I will be doing every so often. When I come across any part of the entertainment business worth mentioning as family friendly, and clean, I will mention it, and do a review of it. This will include music, books, TV shows, movies, and possibly games [I do not own a video gaming system at the moment, so there won’t be many of the gaming ones, if any.])

As people who are close to me know, I love young adult/teen fiction (especially the fantasy, sci-fi, and paranormal stories!). Although, nowadays, finding appropriate reads in the genre is rather difficult. It can get frustrating for someone who’s a Christian, because reading young adult fiction is trial and error, unfortunately. There have been times that I will open a book, get really into it, then, I’ll have to stop reading it for one reason or another. This book, however, really needed no such action.

The cover definitely caught my eye, and, upon opening the cover to read the jacket description, it said: “In the society, officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.” The novel is the story of Cassia Reyes, who lives hundreds of years into the future. She is part of a society that, just as the summary says, basically decides everything for you. The whole society is based on crazily accurate probability. It is described as an almost perfect society, save for the occasional glitch in the system.

The book starts off with Cassia’s birthday, attending a futuristic event called a matching ceremony. In this event, a group of seventeen year olds are paired with another young person to be their “match”, or, potential spouse. To Cassia’s relief, she is matched with her best friend, Xander. It is a very strange occurrence to be matched with someone who lives in your same province (or even your own city for that matter!). All of the other young people in the room were matched with someone far away.

Well, Cassia is very excited to be matched with her best friend, and is very certain that they should be together. However, at the ceremony, people receive little microcards (as they’re called) that contain pictures and what not of their match. It has the pictures of Xander (most of which she’s already seen) but, while she is viewing it, another face shows up on the microcard-a boy she knows named Ky. Ky is what is known as an aberration. He can’t ever be matched or get a higher ranking job as a result of things his father had done. As a result, Cassia finds herself confused, as well as an attraction to both boys that she is having a hard time figuring out.

Cassia’s narration throughout the story is very soft. While she is a very strong young woman, there is a very distinct poetic, and flowery way about her voice. The way Condie writes with Cassia as the narrator flows beautifully. Being a dystopian story, it also gets you thinking about many important issues that arise in the story: Can one truly be free without the right to choose? Is perfection possible in any society? Should there be human control over life and death?

Throughout the story, Cassia seems to find herself wondering about these issues-and slowly starting to doubt this entire society that she-and everyone else- always had put such trust into (She also appears to be doubting whether or not the society was right on religious faith being just a myth). The society carries many secrets-most of which are kept under strict lock and key. However, when some of these secrets surface, the society has some interesting ways of handling them. Some of the ways are pretty mild in some respects, but others are quite scary, especially when outright rebellion is involved.

This story is impressive to me on many levels: For one thing, I would like to note that there was absolutely no profanity of any kind (not even words considered ‘mild’ or euphemisms), as well as no pre-marital sex-which seems to be very common in many young adult novels these days. There were two kisses in the book: one between Cassia and Xander, and then a second time between Cassia and Ky. The kisses, however, are not described in great detail.

Matched does start off rather slowly, I will admit. But there is something about Cassia’s narration that pulls you in and holds you there in the story. Not only is it beautifully written, but, it is a novel that is definitely proof that you can write a wonderful, thought provoking story that is clean. Matched is definitely a treat you don’t want to miss. I would also like to point out that its sequel, Crossed, is coming out in August. I am very interested to see where Condie takes her story with Cassia, Xander, and Ky.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on these things.” (Philippians 4:8, ESV)