On Beauty

Full disclosure on this topic: I have been told I’m ugly basically my entire life. I know that in this blog post, I’m going to say that the final authority should be God, but I’m honestly a hypocrite. I know it’s not always easy to do that, and I can’t expect anyone to believe that all the time when I don’t myself. In writing this, yes, I am trying to convince YOU (the reader) that God should be the final authority on this topic, but I’m also writing this to try and convince myself of the same thing.

 

The definition of beauty is — the quality present in a thing or person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind, whether arising from sensory manifestations (as shape, color, sound, etc.), a meaningful design or pattern, or something else (as a personality in which high spiritual qualities are manifest).

The definition of ugly is– very unattractive or unpleasant to look at; offensive to the sense of beauty; displeasing in appearance.

 

Hmm, those definitions seem a little strange. The definition of beauty seems a bit objectifying.– maybe— but maybe not. There is that second part of the definition. “a meaningful design or pattern”. What does that mean? Well, most people would say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but does that really make sense?

Again, maybe.. of course someone can look at someone and think that person is beautiful, and another person can look at the same person and think they’re ugly. But the society generally agree that certain people are beautiful, such as models. But what makes those people beautiful? More than likely, it’s photos that have been retouched & photo-shopped.

So would the world agree that a person– the real person, without any re-touching?– probably not. Therefore, the world cannot be the final authority.

So who is the “beholder” who’s “eye” has the final authority? Well, God.. but doesn’t that seem a little bit like saying “well my mom says I’m awesome!”.. yeah, but your mom kinda has to say that, her opinion is a bit invalid..

The issue with this view is that we don’t really have another choice. We need to have someone (or something) to determine what beauty means, and because humans can change their minds so much and can have differing opinions, we need an objective view. That view can only come from a higher being.

So, what does God say about beauty?

Psalm 139:14a (NIV) –I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

1 Samuel 16:7 (MSG)   –But God told Samuel, “Looks aren’t everything. Don’t be impressed with his looks and stature. I’ve already eliminated him. God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart.”

2 Cor. 5:17(NIV) –Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:The old has gone, the new is here!

 

So what does God say? He says that we are wonderfully made. But now what a few of you may be thinking is “well yeah, we were MADE awesome, but then we sinned and screwed that up.” Well, now we’re into something further than outward beauty, but maybe that was intentional..

If God, the creator of the cosmos, doesn’t care about physical appearance, why should we? What matters is not the condition of the pimples (or lack there of) on our faces, but the condition of our hearts. So, in conclusion, yes, we were made perfect. “beautiful” in our spirits. Yes, we screwed that up by sinning. But in Christ, we are made a new creation. The condition of our hearts are seen through His sacrifice, and therefore, we are new. But we ought to act like it. No, this in NOT legalism. This is about character. Allow Christ to work through your life, become His creation rather than your own. “lord of my life you will be.”

 

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Woman in Ministry

I understand that this can be a sensitive topic for many. For that reason, it is not normally discussed. I fully believe that Christians become mature in their faith by study of doctrines. I think it’s best for an individual to look at both sides of an argument, be given the verses, reasons and counter-arguments for each and be given the opportunity to decide what he/she believes. Most churches do not provide this opportunity. They simply teach what they believe without ever mentioning that there is a differing view even within Christianity. Without knowing that differing beliefs are okay, young people often blindly follow their parents’ faith. Their faith never becomes their own because they have never been exposed to anything different.

I digress..

The doctrine that many denominations profess is that females should not be in ministry; or rather, they should not be pastors. This belief comes from one verse in 1 Timothy.

 

1 Timothy 2:11-12

“A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man”

 

From that verse alone, it is easy to see how that conclusion can be made. However, it is best to not take one verse and create a ban. Context is EVERYTHING!! If God wanted a ban on female ministers, I would hope it would be more obvious than just one verse. God is always consistent, He never changes.

 

At this point, I’d like to point out that nobody I know actually follows this verse the way it’s written. If it was followed the way it was written, woman would NEVER speak in the church. How many woman teach Sunday school or have said their testimony in church? A lot! If we were taking the first part of this verse literally as it was written, this would never happen. Another thing is that this would go beyond the church building. I do not know many Christians who would get upset if they got hired somewhere and found out that the boss was a woman, but according to this verse, a woman should not have authority over a man..

Let’s look into the context of that verse… The congregation that is being written to in 1 Timothy is the church in Ephesus. The church in Ephesus has specific issues, they had a cult nearby which had an all female leadership team. Those people were coming in and preaching non-sound doctrine. Woman were not educated in those days, so a woman would sound stupid if she were to get up and preach. They would not know what was actually in the bible or be able to discern sound and unsound doctrine. Since Paul was committed to keeping sound doctrine, it was better to tell the woman in this situation not to preach since they could not study God’s word for themselves. The times also had a part in this, in those days, men ruled everything, so it would be seen as inappropriate for a woman to have any authority over a man.

When a woman is compelled to preach, that is: called by God to proclaim the gospel and properly equipped with spiritual gifts to fulfill that calling, she is not using her own authority to do that, she is doing so under God’s authority. She is not putting her own authority above men, but is placing God where he needs to be: in charge.

At this point, I would like to mention that there a few other verses (especially in 1 Cor.) that talk about woman being quiet in church or covering their heads. Woman covering their heads in those days was modesty. The only people who didn’t cover their heads and who let their hair down were prostitutes. Today, we do not think “oh that woman is a prostitute because she isn’t covering her hair.” The context is different and therefore doesn’t mean the same as it did in the first century. As for the part about being silent, this refers to learning, not preaching or teaching. It was more appropriate for a woman to ask questions to her husband since he would be more educated than her.

The real issue I see with not allowing a woman to preach is the idea of spiritual gifts. If God equips a woman to preach, is it wrong for her to use the gifts God has given her? Of course not! Think to yourself for a moment, would it be a sin for a man who is called and equipped for ministry to go his own way rather than becoming a minister? Yes, it would. I think that is clear in James 4:17. So, if a woman is properly called and equipped, it is not a sin for her, of course it is. Phil. 1:21 says “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” If God tells someone to do something, but they decide not to for whatever reason, they are putting their own will above God’s. If a person does that, they make them self a god over their own life and cannot call themself a follower of Christ.

Yes, by the way, woman are given the gifts of preaching. In bible times, the gift of prophecy was what preaching was known as. In Joel 2:28 it says that sons AND DAUGHTERS will prophesy. In Acts 21:9, it mentions a man whose daughters had the gift of prophesy.

I don’t think it is right for anyone to say who God can use. I do not think it is right for woman who are called and equipped BY GOD for ministry should be silenced. Next time a woman is prohibited from publicly preaching or teaching, ask yourself why. Is it about a contextual issue? It it consistent throughout the church? Is a woman allowed to be a guest preacher in youth group with boys over 13 present? (Males 13+ are considered adults in Jewish culture.)

I’m not trying to start an argument here, only provide my thoughts and studies on this issue.

Call to Officership..

For those who don’t know, the Salvation Army is a denomination of the Christian church. Officership in the Salvation Army is basically being a pastor, but with more responsibility and the organization can move you around whenever they want.

I’ll start at the beginning where most stories start. I did not grow up as a Salvationist, in fact, i grew up in a Calvinistic home. Still Christian, but very different beliefs on salvation. Also, the Salvation Army allows for female officers (pastors), which is different from the denomination I grew up in.

I first became acquainted with the Army when I was 10. The Army runs summer camps and I was a camper at one of them from ages 10-15, and then I worked at that camp at ages 16 & 19. (I’m 19 now, that was this past summer)

Before and during this summer, I had never actually gone to a Salvation Army as “my church”. I had visited a few times with the staff, but I never considered myself a salvationist.

Toward the end of the summer, we had a lady talk to us during a staff meeting about officership. I sat there because I had to.. but then one of my friends did something I didn’t expect. As soon as the lady was done talking, he turned to me and asked “So, are you going into training?” I laughed it off, but did admit that I had gone on the website of CFOT (College for Officer Training– Salvation Army seminary) during the weekend. After that I started to actually think about it, though I didn’t even go to a Salvation Army corps (church). I talked to one of the officers who was at camp who encouraged me to start attending a corps, and to look for signs of whether or not this was actually what God wanted me to do.

It took me a couple of months but I eventually started to attend a corps. Keep in mind that I’m not a soldier (member) yet. Anyway, I commute to college everyday which takes anywhere from 35-45 minutes each way, everyday. God really speaks to me through songs, and I basically only listen to Christian music. I get a lot of song time each day on my commute to and from school. Little things in songs just catch me sometimes and make me think about officership.

Another thing that happened was that I was reading in Romans one day when I read a few verses and got a picture in my head of EXACTLY how to illustrate and teach those verses. It was really cool and I literally just sat there in shock and awe.

Then even though I kept getting those confirmations, I still doubted, so I made a deal with God one Sunday. I told him that I thought that it was just my emotions and that I was talking myself into it. So I told him that if he really wanted me to become an officer, that he should have an officer bring it up. I never told anyone about that deal, so I thought it would just go away. (Honestly, I was probably hoping that it would go away.)

Well, God is faithful! Three days after that Sunday, I was at dinner at the corps and I was talking to one of the officers when she turns to me and asks “Do you think God might be calling you to officership?” Keep in mind here that at this point that she met me about a month or two beforehand and that I’m not even a member of the church yet.. talk about unqualified..   I talked to her about it later and she has been very encouraging.

The weekend following that encounter, I went to a Salvation Army Young Adult retreat. One of the sessions that weekend was on surrender. God kept telling me during that session that I needed to surrender my own will if I was to keep saying that I wanted His will to be done. I needed to admit that I was called to officership..

I talked to my corps officer (church pastor), and also to the DYS (Divisional Youth Secretary) who was the officer I had talked to during the summer. Both have been encouraging.

Then if that wasn’t enough proof, there’s more..

The day after the retreat, I was planning a camping trip with my scouting group when we decided that we would hold a church service on Sunday and that I would preach.  (scary, I know)

Writing the sermon for that really wasn’t hard, very ironic though.. I was upset at God for telling me that his will involved me becoming an officer. So, what did I do? I wrote a sermon on following God’s will. It was super easy to write too, I started and kept thinking of verses to keep going. Which only further confirms my calling.. oops..

Then I still wasn’t 100% convinced and I told God one night that if this was REALLY what he wanted from me, that he should give me a dream about it. So.. yeah.. that night, I honestly don’t remember what the dream was about.. all I know was that I had red epaulets, which is what officers wear on their uniforms.

So, where am I at now? Well, I’m finding that it gets less terrifying the more I embrace it. Like I thought it would be hard to write that sermon and it wasn’t. I’m realizing that God is faithful and that he will give me the skills that I need to fulfill this calling and to bring him glory. It’s a very humbling experience, it’s not actually what I thought it would be, it’s not a powerful feeling, it’s humbling because God actually picked ME (ME, with all my flaws..) to preach his word… now that’s cool!!

My parents don’t know yet.. this is more so that they still pay for college than anything else. If I tell them now, they’ll ask why they’re paying for a Social Work degree when I want to be a pastor.. even though that will help me. They also do not agree with woman being pastors, but I doubt that they’ll fight that one much.

At this point, I plan to finish my Social Work degree, which should help me as an officer anyway to ensure that communities I’m placed in are adequately served by the church. I’m not a soldier yet.. but only because I can’t take the classes for that until January.  

At this point, I’m done denying it. I’m done making excuses. I’m done fighting it. I’m letting God do what he wants with me. For HIS will be done, not mine.

 

Updates: 1) My parents know now, and are still helping me pay for school.

2) I’m in Soildership (membership) classes now.

 

Disclaimer: I am still on Salvation Army payroll… I am an employee of the Salvation Army. The views expressed in this blog are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of The Salvation Army.

My Issues with OA

In case some of you don’t know, I am in a program of the Boy Scouts of America that is co-ed for 14-21 year olds, it is called Venturing. The Order of the Arrow (OA) is the honor society for the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). The issue is that in order to be in OA, if you’re under 21, you have to have earned first class rank. The only way you can do that is if you’re in Boy Scouts (BSA is the organization as a whole Boy Scouts is only open to boys 11-17.) The only way to be a Boy Scout is to be a boy..

The reason the BSA claims is that OA is the Boy Scout honor society and that there is not an honor society for Venturers. The issue with this is more of how OA is run. They will allow anyone in if they’ve done the Ordeal (induction ceremony) and are a member of the BSA. That means the a boy can wear his OA lodge flap on a Venturing uniform, even if he is not still involved in the Boy Scout program. This also neglects the fact that Varsity scouts (mostly used in LDS churches) can also be inducted, even though they are not “Boy Scouts”. The other issue with it only being a “Boy Scouts” honor society is the ages. In OA, they consider everyone a youth until they are 21, but in Boy Scouts, you’re an adult at 18.

Another argument is that there is no equivalent to First Class Rank in Venturing. This is a fair point, but at the same time, there is a class called Introduction to Outdoor Leader Skills where they teach you all of the scout skills from Scout (joining) to First Class. This class is only open to adults 18+ but still, if this class is equivalent to first class, why not treat it as such?  Another solution would be to either allow Venturers who have earned the highest award in Venturing, the Summit Award (or Silver Award pre-2015) or the highest award in Sea Scouts, the Quartermaster Award to join. Most say that these awards are equivalent to Eagle Scout, so why doesn’t BSA act like they are? The Quartermaster Award has been quoted as being the hardest award to earn in BSA.

Though I could spill their secret passwords and such, I will not. I do wish to be admitted into the Order at some point in my life, but because BSA doesn’t want girls who are under 21, I’ll have to wait a while.

 

#MerryChristmasStarbucks

Please note before reading that this post was written for a class, and the topic was assigned.

 

For anyone who has gone on social media in the past week or so,you know that the #merrychristmasstarbucks criticisms are flying. For those who don’t know what this is about I’ll give a brief summery. Starbucks has special cups for the holiday season and this year their holiday cup is simply a red cup without any type of design. Some Christians believe that this is a war on Christmas and that it is taking Christ out of Christmas.
Now on to my opinion on the matter. I honestly don’t care. The previous holiday cups never referred to Christ. They were more of holiday cups that Christmas cups from the beginning. Never was there ever a manger scene on them or anything that has to do with the Christian understanding of Christmas.
If Christians should be getting upset about something this holiday season, there are much better things to get upset about. Instead of wasting our energy on getting mad about things that are very petty, we should get upset and use our time to fix things that we can actually change in the world.

Split Image Response

Please note before reading that this post was written for a class, and the topic was assigned.

Social media tends to portray everyone in a positive light, but when a person looks at these posts too often, they can begin to think that is reality. When that person is struggling and all they ever see on social media is people enjoying their lives, they can begin to think that something is wrong with them since their life is not going exactly as they had planned it. This contoured reality has affected me. I had to drop a class and I was really embarrassed about it since everyone else has been doing fine in all of their classes. I was embarrassed since it is only my first semester in college and I was already failing a class. I knew that I needed to keep a 3.0 GPA for my academic scholarship or I would not be able to attend next semester, but I still felt that I was stupid and a failure for having to drop a class already. I decided to do it since I did not see that I had any other option. Social media has made people think that everyone else’s lives are perfect while this is not the reality of life. Everyone has struggles in life and everyone’s struggles are very real and hard to them. I do not like it when I tell someone one of my problems, and they think that I am kidding because they do not view that particular problem as a serious issue. In the article, the girl saw all of her friends’ facebook pages and only saw the positive aspects of their lives. I encourage everyone to be real with their friends so that everyone knows that they are not alone in their struggles.

Blog Response

Please note before reading that this post was written for a class, and the topic was assigned.

 

I read a blog post by Kathy Sierra titled “Trouble at Koolaid point”. This blog talks about how Kathy, the writer, was threatened when her internet posts began to draw the attention of other internet users.

Social media is becoming a more public place.People should not expect privacy with anything that is posted on the internet. Employers check potential employees’ Facebook accounts. Is this a bad thing? It could be! Especially in the case of Kathy Sierra. She was being threatened. If she, or anyone in the same situation as her had been applying for a job while these threats were going on, that person probably would not be hired. This is because the threats were not only to her, they were also to her family and friends. If a potential employer was looking at these threats, he or she may be scared for their own life and protect themselves from the “trolls” by not associating themselves with that person.

Social media is turning young people into bullies. Cyberbullying is much easier on the internet. In her blog, Kathy talks about “trolls” who are anonymous bullies. No one requires any proof of what they are saying. Everyone just takes their words at face value, without any proof. This hits me close to home since I was cyberbullied in junior high school. A girl who didn’t like me decided to start a roomer that I was a lesbian and that we were dating. Since she was popular, everyone took her words at face value rather than asking me if any of it was true. (It was not in the least bit true.) Some of my friends even tried to pressure me into admitting to the false statements. I hate it when people cyberbully. These statements that no one would have thought to say to me or about me if they couldn’t initially begin while hiding behind their computer screen.

Freedom of Speech as Christians

Please note before reading that this post was written for a class, and the topic was assigned.

Philippians 4:8-9 is sometimes used to tell followers of Christ not to talk about or even think about R-rated topics. Since these types of topics are discussed so often in today’s society, how are Christians supposed to live? There is no possible way for a person to never be exposed to sensitive topics. I think that it is actually important for Christians to discuss these topics. If as Christians we are never exposed to these topics, we will seem ignorant when someone brings up an R-rated topic. If Christians never think about these topics in community with other Christians, we will be more prone to take the world’s view of this type of content when we eventually become aware of it. Paul’s warning is to not become like the world in our thinking. These topics are impossible to dodge for the entirety of our lives and it is important that we learn to view these topics from a Christian point of view. Students should be exposed to these topics. It can be dangerous when a Christian is required to view pornographic material since lust will naturally occur. I do not think that students should be required to view this type of material, but here’s the thing, most people are exposed to pornography before their eighteenth birthday. If as Christians we pretend none of us have ever viewed it, we’re only lying to ourselves. If Christians want to view these topics in a Christian manner, we need to talk about it. It does not help anyone if Christians pretend we’re perfect. I’m not saying that Christians should view R-rated content, but if a Christian does view this type of content, they shouldn’t have to hide it. Yes, shame is a natural emotion, but when Christians never talk about these topics, it becomes something that people are afraid to admit. As Christians we should not encourage one another to view this type of content. However, we should be there and not judge people when they admit that they have fallen into the temptations of the world.

Visual Critique Reflection

Please note before reading that this post was written for a class, and the topic was assigned.

 

I had to write a visual critique essay for my English class. The directions were pretty strait forward but some aspects of the paper were difficult. At times, it was difficult to write the required amount of pages needed for the paper. It was also difficult to write a paper about what an image looks like since I was looking at the image and it was hard for me to determine whether or not someone who was not looking at the image would be able to visualize it. It was also difficult to talk about what the image was stating without inserting my opinion into the paragraph.
We were given three images and had to choose one to write about. I decided to write about an image that talked about gun rights. I choose the image that I choose because I grew up in a very conservative home and my dad has always believed that Americans should be allowed to utilize their second amendment right to own a gun. This image was also interesting to me because of the children in the image. I have worked with children in many capacities, including multiple camp settings and teaching Sunday school. Children interest me and I wanted to look at the image closer since children were involved.
We had to do a peer review process on other students’ papers during one of our class hours. I found the peer review process to be helpful. It was interesting to find out what other students noticed that I hadn’t. I think that it’s good to have a peer review papers before turning them in so that you do not make careless mistakes that a new set of eyes would have caught.
The visual critique was different from papers that I have done in the past because it was about an image. The papers that I have written in the past were about a specific topic rather than an image. Having an image made the subject less narrow since while writing, I could not begin to discuss another related topic as in the case with topical papers.

Freedom of Speech

 

Please note before reading that this post was written for a class, and the topic was assigned.

“It is a peculiar but immutable feature of our American system of free speech that we expend so much of our speech trying to silence other speakers.” -Adam Weinstein

In this quote, Weinstein is saying that Americans take their freedom of speech too far.
As U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. said: “One person’s rights end when another’s begin.”
This quote summarizes a basic American belief, in which one American’s rights cannot be intruded on by another American. Americans are given no right to restrict another American from utilizing their constitutional rights.
In my opinion, the situation described in this quote is due to ignorance. Most Americans believe that a person’s freedom of speech is being violated when a private organization stops one of their employees from speaking on a particular topic. Let’s evaluate this a little more. As a private organization, separate from the government, the organization has the right to not be associated with things one of their employees says. However, as an American, that employee has the constitutional right of free speech. So where do we go from here? The thing that most people don’t realize is that the rights granted to Americans in the bill of rights only protects that person from the government taking that right. Since most Americans do not work for the government, their employers can limit how their employees act while representing that company. The company cannot limit what that employee says and does in their personal time, but they can limit their speech and behavior while that individual is representing that organization.
When Americans lash out and accuse others of violating their constitutional rights, it sends a broader picture to the world. This sends a message to other countries that these freedoms don’t work. It tells any countries who may be considering instituting freedoms to their citizens that these freedoms are taken too seriously.
At this point, I would like to pause to clarify. I am not saying that anyone should not utilize their rights. What I mean by saying that people take their rights too seriously is that people are abusing their rights by intruding on other people’s rights.
Anyway, this issue is big in America and it is important for Americans to know when their freedom of speech is allowed and when it’s not. I will link an educational youtube video by crash course at the bottom of this post for anyone who is interested in learning more about their freedom of speech.

Video: