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Motivated by Love November 18, 2007

Posted by amybeth in Christianity, Deep.
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Today our pastor was talking about being motivated by love. He spoke about how it was fine to pursue the spiritual gifts but only if our underlying motivation was love. He explained that we would know that we were motivated by love if we were first looking to practically meet any needs we could in others…if we gave of our time and our resources first instead of just passing on spiritual sounding encouragement without actually getting involved ourselves. And then, if we found we were truly motivated by love, it would naturally follow that any pursuit of spiritual gifts would be for the purpose of meeting the needs of others in ways beyond which we were physically capable. We wouldn’t be pursuing them out of selfish ambition or pride.The last couple of weeks I’ve been once again recognizing the need to connect with God more, to spend time in his presence. I want to grow closer to him, to hear his voice. But I find I am so easily distracted, so easily pulled away by other pursuits. I understand that if I truly needed God, if I truly acknowledge him as the most important thing in my life, then I would naturally put seeking his face first. But life just gets moving along and while things might not be stellar, they’re okay and well…meeting with God falls by the wayside.

But today our pastor’s sermon put a new spin on this struggle of mine. If I am only pursuing God to get closer to him myself, to become more spiritual myself, then no wonder I can put off my time with him whenever I feel things are going okay in my life, when there’s no crisis or need in my life that would drive me to seek him. But if I’m motivated by love, then my need to connect with God, to draw upon his resources will never cease, will never become optional because there are always needs in those around me that I am not sufficient in and of myself to meet. If I am motivated by love, therefore, I will be continually seeking the face of God, not only for myself, but for others.

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Age of Consent November 18, 2007

Posted by amybeth in Christianity, Deep.
6 comments

The other day I received an email from 4mycanada, a ministry dedicated to raising awareness among youth about the issues in our land and encouraging them to take a stand for righteousness. They were letting their email network know about a debate that had occurred on a TV show called ‘The Verdict’ over the proposed legislation to raise the age of consent for sexual activity to 16 instead of where it currently stands at 14. They had actually been contacted by the show to recommend some young people who represent the side that is in favor of this change. They were thrilled to have this opportunity to have young people stand for righteousness on national TV and encouraged us all to watch the archives.So I did. It was very interesting to listen to the different parties argue their opinions. The young people were only one segment of the entire show so my comments below in no way reflect my opinion of what 4mycanada is doing or the stand that they are taking. I really admire how they are rallying a generation to stand for righteousness.

However, I get really frustrated when I watch debates where those who are supposedly standing for what’s right and good come across as totally uniformed and unable to think about the ramifications of what they are standing for in order to adequately address the concerns of those whom they are debating. All too often, I see those who are advocating what would stereotypically be the Christian position, resort to simply stating their position over and over again with slightly different wording but never actually adding any new information and then getting angry when people aren’t convinced by this vain repetition.

Those who were arguing for raising the age of consent kept saying that we needed this adjustment of the law to protect kids. They kept bringing up the various atrocities committed by predators who have exploited children. This sounds good, but was merely preaching to the choir. No one there was against protecting kids. Everyone there was appalled by the stories of injustice involving sexual predators and teenagers. But those arguing for this change were unable to answer some of the legitimate concerns that were brought up by those who were arguing against it.

For example, if we change the age of consent law to 16, then a 15 year old having sex with his/her 21 year old boyfriend or girlfriend could find that partner prosecuted and jailed if the nature of their relationship was discovered (any difference in age less than 5 years is exempt from this law). Sure, in an ideal world, 14 and 15 year olds wouldn’t be having sex in the first place, but in our day and age, this is not an implausible scenario. With the raising of the age of consent, we force all such relationships to go underground preventing the young people involved in them from reaching out for help when they need it.

I agree that a 35 year old predator should not be able to manipulate or force a 14 or 15 year old into having sex with them and then get away with it because they can somehow demonstrate that the teenager consented. However, I don’t think such predators should be able to manipulate a 16, 18, 21 or even 25 year old into supposedly consenting to have sex with them but then taking it further than that teenager or young adult desired to go. Likewise I don’t think an overbearing 19 year old should be allowed to force a timid 16 year old into having sex and get away with it just because they are close enough in age. But simply continuing to raise the age of consent isn’t going to help in any of these cases.

As those advocating against the raising of the age of consent explained, there are rules in place to prevent exploitation of people at any age. No, they don’t always work well, but its these laws that need to be strengthened. Raising the age of consent is only a bandaid solution which will in turn create other negative ramifications that no one is currently even acknowledging, let alone prepared to deal with.

Unfortunately, none of those advocating for what seems to be the position more in line with Christian morals even acknowledged the legitimacy of these people’s concerns nor proposed how the new legislation would bring about good without introducing any additional bad. They kept going back to their original statements that this change in the law was for protecting kids and became exasperated when asked to address the complexities of the issue.

I found myself actually convinced by those advocating against this change in the age of consent. I also found myself once again saddened by the display of those who are supposedly standing for righteousness. If we can’t learn to grapple with the issues and legitimately address the complex concerns of our society today, we are going to continue to lose credibility.

Sorry, 4mycanada, I wasn’t as excited about this opportunity you had to be on national TV as you were. We’ve got a long way to go before our voice is truly heard – even a long way to go before our voice should be heard.

Old Blog November 16, 2007

Posted by amybeth in Uncategorized.
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Just an FYI.

I decided to transfer all the entries from my old blog to this one. So…if you look at 2006 or if you click on ‘Old Blog’ in the category list, you can read the posts I made prior to switching to this new blog. There’s not that many of them. There’s no particular reason to go back to them unless you are interested, but I thought I should explain why a few extra folders from 2006 suddently showed up in the archives list.

I’ve decided to make use of the old blog domain in a different way so I needed to clear the posts out of the way…but I didn’t just want to delete them entirely.

Too Educated for Star Trek November 12, 2007

Posted by amybeth in Life.
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Okay, I was watching some DVDs of an old Star Trek season this week. In general, because of my university education in research, there are certain things that aren’t striking me as plausible anymore (whereas when I was a kid I was in awe of all the pseudo-scientific stuff). Also, we’ve advanced in technology enough even in the last 10 years or so that some of the stuff seems outdated (even though its supposedly set in time ahead of us).But this one episode just cracked me up. A doctor was advising Picard as to the feasibility of erasing a young child’s memory of her trip to the Enterprise. She made the statement that “memories are stored chemically on the neurons of the cerebral cortex.”

Now how does that strike you?  Scientific?  Plausible? Does it not seem like she is identifying a particular region of the brain responsible for memory that could then be located and altered?

Well, I’m currently finishing up my degree in Psychology so I actually know what she’s talking about and because I do, the statement is just totally laughable. In fact I had to pause the movie I was chuckling so hard. The entire main section of your brain is called the cerebral cortex. Everything from memory, to hearing, to vision, to motor control, to sensation, to decision making, etc. is stored there. And your brain is made up entirely of neurons. So what she is saying is like telling a friend that your house is located on earth. Duh!

I’m sorry…I know the majority of people out there won’t get the humor in this…but it absolutely cracked me up!

Proud Abba November 12, 2007

Posted by amybeth in God.
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As some of you know and some of you don’t, I am leading my church’s youth group this year. Some time back, we heard about a 48 hr worship event being held at a local house of prayer during the Halloween season – a standing for light in the midst of darkness. The youth expressed interest in attending just to see what was going on. While the director has asked if our youth band would be willing to take a 2 hour slot and play, I didn’t think we were ready yet. At that stage we’d only had about 2 practices and knew a grand total of 3 songs.The week before the event I discovered that most of the youth had made other plans and wouldn’t be coming after all, but I did have four who were still interested, three of whom were musicians. After contacting the director and discovering that she remained unsuccessful in getting another band to cover the time slot that we were planning on attending, I proposed to one of the youth who was planning on coming with me that perhaps the three of them could play. They had jammed together outside of youth and I thought that just possibly, they could make a go of it. He actually got quite excited and booked off work to make it happen.

On the actual night of, I had two more of the youth who hadn’t planned on coming before show up. The one young man I had spoken to picked a bunch of songs he thought they might be able to play on the spot…and we were on! It was an interesting night…as I told the youth themselves, we had some absolutely awful moments when nothing sounded right, but we also had some incredible moments where everything seemed to come together despite our lack of preparation.

But the point of this story is the huge grin I couldn’t seem to wipe from my face the whole night. Literally…I felt like my smile was stretching of my face. I was so proud of them for stepping up to the plate and trying. It was a pretty scary thing to take responsibility for providing continuous worship for 2 hours when you’ve only practiced 3 songs as a group before. And they kept persevering even when the songs they tried didn’t work so well. They were just awesome!

A few days later as I was pondering on the experience, God dropped the thought in my head that that is how he feels about us when we try and keep persevering despite the odds. I know I’ve heard before that when you become a parent, many attributes of God as Father are opened up to you due to the parallel feelings you have towards your own children. I think in that moment, the youth became like my kids and I had a momentary glimpse of how proud Abba is of us.

This was profound for me because I’ve always struggled with how can God be proud of us, pleased with us, when he knows how much more we could be, when his final goal is so much beyond where we are now. Wouldn’t he get frustrated at times? Or maybe he’d have that kind of half grin/half grimace on his face like people do when they are experts in a field watching amateurs make bumbling attempts?

But that night, I discovered just how proud a person can be of another person or people despite their imperfections, despite not having yet reached their potential – very, very proud.

Then, to add to the story, a few days later I was driving to school listening to a CD that I’ve listened to thousands of times before. I had just recently made a very difficult decision about a direction I was headed. It was one of those decisions that was more than just the decision itself but felt like it was deeper down, the taking of a stand spiritually. Anyways, the words of this one song just leapt out at me and I started crying in the car because they’d touched something inside.

The singer was speaking as if from the perspective of God saying, “Angels, oh Angels look and see, through this dark night of faith she is trusting in me.”

It was the same thing…like God was saying to me ‘I’m proud of you…pleased as punch that you are choosing me even when you can’t see what’s going on. You don’t have to have it all figured out…just stand. And that’s enough to totally bowl me over with pride in my daughter.”

Wow, eh?