Tuesday, August 31, 2010

When Zombies Attack...

Or my current thoughts on the new Scooby Doo cartoon on Cartoon Network.  I guess I could also label this as the geekiest blog you will read today!

So I was a bit excited when Cartoon Network announced they were going to have a new Scooby Doo cartoon.  I wasn't sure what to expect, but I figured if you had those 5 characters and a mystery you couldn't mess it up right?  Well, they're trying hard to mess it up.  A few complaints that I have are the new aspects of the characters, the animation itself, additional characters, and the setting of the show.  At this point, you are wondering what do I like about it.  I'm not sure what I do like about it, but I'm still watching it after about 4 or 5 weeks.  So evidently I like something about it or maybe I'm still watching in the vain hope that it all magically changes and gets better.

In the new one, there's too much teen angst between the characters.  Daphne and Velma are in or are trying to be in relationships with Fred and Shaggy respectively.  The guys are pretty oblivious to the way they "should" be acting as boyfriends.  So a good portion of the show is spent discussing this which I think is totally unnecessary.  Just focus on the mystery who cares about these supposed relationships.

The animation itself is to has too many sharp edges to it.  I think they are trying to make the show scarier and darker.  I don't like it!  The show isn't supposed to be dark and scary.  It's supposed to be fun.

There is a Mr. E that I suppose is some kind of play on Charlie's Angels or  something.  I'm not sure what his purpose is.  It might be that he is trying to point them to some larger mystery, which is kinda cool.  The parents of the kids are more involved as well, which I thought at first was going to be cool, but at this point I find it annoying.  Once again, too much teen angst.

The setting is Crystal Cove, "the most haunted town in America".  First off, everyone knows that the kids are from Coolsville.  So where did Crystal Cove come from.  I guess it is a lame attempt at humor.  Not liking it.

And one more thing, Scooby is not the pet of the whole group and a fun, loving, scardey cat type dog.  He is more just Shaggy's friend.  So not the point of Scooby Doo and he has yet to say Scooby Dooby Doo either.

So with all these complaints, I'm still watching it.  There is this overarching mystery that is slowly being revealed.  I guess I'm waiting on that, but I'm getting impatient.  If it doesn't get better soon, I think I'm taking it off DVR.  Cartoon Network managed to mess up a good thing and I'm not happy about it!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Parable of the Shrewd Manager

Drew here, pinch hitting for Andrea.  :) 

This week's study comes from Luke 16:1-13, where Jesus gives the parable of the shrewd manager.  This passage was part of our harmony of the gospels study in Sunday school a couple weeks ago and it was a tremendous blessing on my life and I felt the Lord lay it on my heart to share it with our group and whoever may be reading this post.  I sincerely hope and pray you get a blessing from it as well. 

(1-8):  How much we're willing to let God be in control of our finances is a good litmus test as to our relationship with him, more specifically, his lordship in our lives.  Money has a lot of power in our lives and can be used for good or evil.  We must use our resources wisely as they belong to God and not to us, and in such a way that will foster faith and obedience.  Store up your treasures in heaven!

(10-12):  There is nothing wrong with having ambitions, hopes, dreams, desires, and so forth, so long as they don't take the place of God's plan for our lives.  Personally, I feel in a state of transition in my life.  I feel the house we're currently living in isn't likely going to be the house we end up buying.  I feel like my field is a dying profession and I feel the Lord calling me into full-time ministry at some point in the not too distant future.  We're also in need of a new car.  Andrea and I have many other wants and desires for ourselves, our son and our friends and loved ones around us.  But times like these, we need to step back and take stock of the blessings we currently have in order to give way to clarity and peace of mind right now, so the answers that are to come later on don't take precedence in our lives today.  Are we being responsible with what God has already blessed us with?  It's been my personal experience that God has rightfully (though I didn't feel that way at the time) withheld blessings because I was neglecting what was already under my nose.  For example, if I have a poor attitude at my current job, why should God see fit to bless me with the job promotion I've been praying for for a while?  God needs to see that we can responsibly handle the little things before he often provides more for us here on Earth, and not to mention trusting us to responsibly handle the heavenly riches to come.  It's an old adage, but count your blessings.  God will reward you on this side of heaven and in his kingdom of glory.

(13):  As I touched on in the first section of verses, money has the power to take God's place in our lives.  It can become our master ahead of God easier than we realize.  Money is a very hard master, and a very deceptive one.  Have you become a slave to money today?  Do you think and worry about it frequently?  Do you sacrifice things you should do and would even like to do in order to make more money?  Is it hard for you to give away money?  Just remember that great fortunes can be made and lost overnight, but no amount of money can buy your happiness, health, or more importantly, your eternal life.  Let's let God be our master today.  He offers us a peace of mind and security unlike any material thing in this world, both now and forever.

Please feel free to leave any feedback, praises, or anything we can help you pray for in the comments section!  Have a blessed week! 


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Nicodemus John 3:1-21

3:1-5  Nicodemus is a Pharisee and comes to visit Jesus at night.  He tells him they know God is with him.  This indicates that more than one person thinks this, but Nicodemus is the only person willing to go to him and say this.  So he obviously has some guts to go against the grain and see Jesus.  Visiting him at night could suggest a desire for an intimate conversation away from the crowds.  Nicodemus is an educated man who is very aware of how these things work.  To get the best information, it needs to be more of a one on one conversation.  Jesus doesn't wait for a question.  He tells him it's more than just realizing who I am.  He puts it in plain words and not a parable.  As I said, Nicodemus is an educated leader in Israel.  He shouldn't need those extra helps.  However, he still doesn't get it.  Upon further explanation, Jesus refers to water and Spirit.  It could be physical and spiritual birth or spiritual birth and baptism.  Either way Jesus is telling him how to be born again.

3:6-8 Jesus continues to elaborate on the idea and hits on the idea that those of the Spirit don't make sense to those without the Spirit.  There are going to be those that don't get why we do what we do.  They might even be against what you are doing.  So those of the Spirit may have to separate from those without it or at least distance yourself from those without it.

3:9-15  Nicodemus still doesn't get it and Jesus is amazed.  So he tells it to him straight again.  Paraphrasing:  "If you don't believe something as small as giving sight to the blind, how can you believe something as large as salvation of a soul?"  Don't we know people who have turned their backs on God because he didn't give them what they wanted when they wanted it.  How can we be prepared for what God wants to give us when we are putting restrictions on him like in a time period or it has to be done a certain way?  We must stop waiting on God to make himself more like us.  We need to make ourselves more like God.

3:16  Probably the most famous verse in the Bible and rightly so.  In a few simple words, Jesus sums it all up for us.  But look at the power of the words he uses.  The word believe in this case means "to place confidence in".  It is what we say when we are talking to a friend and we say "I believe you."  It is more than just I know this.  It is I know it and I am compelled to act on that knowledge.  When we say "I believe you" to a friend, those are powerful words.  We are saying we have confidence in who they are and what they stand for.  We are placing our trust and faith in them with the thing they are saying.  This is what we need to do with Jesus.  He also mentions eternal life.  Can we conceive of this?  If we put our confidence in him, we will have eternal life.  And not a life like on this earth, it is "a life active and vigorous." and "the absolute fullness of life."

3:17-21  Then Jesus follows with a discussion of Light and Dark.  What captures me about this discussion is that those in Darkness focus on their actions.  It is selfish.  It is all about that person.  In the Light, it is not about individual action.  It is God.  It is what God has done.  I am just the vessel.  In my personal opinion, this is the biggest failing of Christians today.  There is an unwillingness to step into the light.  Something that sets Christians apart is our willing to say, I'm sorry.  I messed up.  Not God messed up, but I did.  People in the Light should be willing to analyze themselves and say "This thing is too much about me.  I need to give this to God and apologize to him and others for holding on to it."  It is this that so many of us are missing.  I am not  exempting myself here.  I am just as guilty of it as anyone.  It is a process, but so is our Christian walk.  It is something that we have to keep trying to get better at.

Overall, this whole passage is more than just verse 16 that we focus on.  Jesus explains what to do to get to heaven (5), why you want to(16), and what to do between here and heaven(21).  There is so much packed into these verses it is amazing how much of it seems to be overshadowed by verse 16.  Praise God Nicodemus had the courage to ask these questions and the education to enough to get a straight answer.

The little things that matter

People always compliment us on Ben's smile or his laugh or being a happy baby, but those aren't the things that I love best.  There are so many little intimate moments that really take my breath away.  So many times that I am amazed at God's creation and the part he has given me in making his creation flourish.

Like when he's first waking up, I love watching him stretch and rub his eyes.  He'll sit up, look at me, and reach for me to get him out of his crib.  I also love when he's watching one of his TV shows in my lap and we talk about what's going on.  He's so still watching it that I can get right there with him and whisper about what's going on.  I love watching him in the car (not when I'm driving).  He loves looking around and he'll crane his neck to see more of what is going on outside of the car.  When he does that, he opens his mouth and looks like he's just amazed by it all.

One of his current favorite toys is his alphabet djembe type drum.  He can turn it to music, dancing, or alphabet in both Spanish and English.  He likes playing with those controls just to push those buttons.  He doesn't quite get what they do, but he pushes them until he gets what he wants.  He likes the alphabet part being on.  He sits down on Drew's bean bag and then kicks his feet and wiggles his butt until he's perfectly situated.  Then he puts the drum between his legs and hits it as many times in a row as he can.  He can go from A to S in about 5 seconds.  The whole sitting and getting comfy and playing his drum process is so cute to watch. 

So while I enjoy my son's laugh and how happy he is.  I really love those moments that just Daddy and I get to see.  Those intimate moments of life are very special and I am blessed to be a part of them.  Praise God for those little things he gives us every day!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

College Instructor, Wife, and Mother

I knew that today was going to be a long day.  I had lots of errands to do, the doctor's office, DMV, passport office, get a faculty ID and parking pass.  I was very surprised that the DMV and passport office were very easy to get what I needed.  The on campus errands were much more difficult.  I got my room assignments, but it didn't really work, so I had to try to get that changed.  Changing anything seems to be quite an ordeal and this was no different.  In the end, it worked out wonderfully. Praise God!  Getting my faculty parking tag was super easy.  The faculty ID was difficult.  I had to talk to like 3different people all over campus in the middle of the day and it was hot.  Yuck!  I got it done though.  All I had left to do was to check email and print 2 things.  Unfortunately, the lab assistant was new and so were the computers, so he didn't know how to set it up to print right.  So after some and messing, I put my flash drive in a different computer and got it printed.  Whew!  Errands complete.

I got to come home for about an hour and play with Ben, talk to Drew, and relax a little.  It was just enough time to start making me a little nervous.  : )  I got back to campus in time to make a few copies and get things arranged in my classroom.  Tonight I had a small class of 8 and I ended up getting the room change I needed.  The students all participated wonderfully, listened attentively, worked well together and individually.  They all participated and even asked me a few questions about myself.  (I always give my students a chance the first day, but most of the time they don't ask anything.)  It was a really great class!  I have a seated lab class, which at first seemed a little unnecessary because their entire lab book is all online.  However, it was great to have that time today to work with them and figure out the program together.  So great first day as a college professor.

The best part of the day, however, was hands down getting to come home and play with my son and eat dinner with my husband.  I have a wonderful husband that got me a black olive pizza for dinner as a celebration of my first class.  There are lots of people that don't like olives so it is always a treat for me to get them on my pizza.  Ben was literally climbing all over us and begging food off our plates while we were trying to eat.  He was also running, laughing, playing his bongo drum, and settling into his perfect place in the bean bag.  It was all so ordinary and so wonderful.  Later when I was putting him to bed he grabbed my hand, well really a couple fingers and laid down.  He just wanted to hold my hand and his blanket while he fell asleep.  I can't believe I am so blessed to be doing something that I love every day and get to come home to such love and joy. 

I expect to have a very busy semester and I was more than a little worried about how I can manage to do it all and still be the wife and mother that I need to be.  Tonight God showed me that the quality is more important or at least just as important as the quantity.  I think this will be a great test for me to see if I can discipline myself to manage my time like I know I need to.  If I do it right, then I can enjoy more nights like tonight.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego Daniel 3:8-30

Background:  Nebuchadnezzer built a 90 ft. statue of himself of gold and demanded that people worship it when the music began.  Those that didn't were thrown into the furnace.  90 ft. is nearly the size of the Statue of Liberty.  When the music began, the 3 Israelite boys did not bow to the statue.

Someone told on them and they were brought before the king.  He gave them another shot to bow down.  They said no.  They went on to say that our God is big enough to deliver us from your furnace and even if he doesn't, we're still with him.  What an amazing faith that took from them!  Would we be able and willing to stand up to someone like that?  He was the king and threatening them with death.  They stood by God.  How often do we let God down in much smaller matters?  When we are tempted to say no, to doubt, to back down from our standards, let's remember these boys and the faith they showed.

King Neb became furious at this and ordered the furnace seven times hotter than usual.  It was so hot the soldiers that took them up there died because of the heat.  Isn't it amazing that the 3 boys made it to the furnace?  Isn't it a further testament to God that the boys made it into the furnace?  It would have been impressive if they hadn't died when the soldiers did and they got out of it then.  But God pushed it to the limit and their faith held strong.  Maybe God does that to us sometimes.  We get up to the fire and we're still strong when others are fainting away.  But that's not it, God pushes it farther because he knows we can take it and the miracle will be bigger because our faith allows him to work in bigger ways.  Let's shoot for that kind of faith.

King Neb next notices that there are 4 men walking around the furnace and says one of them looks like "the son of the gods."  Some say it was an angel and some say it is a pre-incarnate Jesus walking around with the 3 boys, either way it was an incredible heavenly being that even King Neb realized was important and impressive.  When God shows up, even those without faith take notice.

King Neb calls them out and there is no damage to them, their clothing, their hair, etc.  No damage after being in that fire!  Not even a smell of smoke on them.  Once again, do we have a faith to stand in the fire and know we will come out unharmed?  God really did these things with these boys/men!  This really happened, so why do we wonder if God can do something for us?

King Neb ends saying, "Don't dis their God or else."  Now he isn't saying he believes, he just recognizes what this god has done, so he's the new big guy on the block.  Be careful that we aren't just putting God on some list, but that we are making him the only one on that list.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Ben's new words

With the last couple weeks being a bit heavy, I thought this week would be a bit lighter.  It is amazing to see Ben growing.  Not that it hasn't been for the first almost 18 months, but these last couple weeks have really been amazing.  It seems like he is learning a new word or two every day!

Just this weekend he learned...
Friday- yucky and hot
Saturday- puppy, Alex, and tutu
Sunday - arm and um
Today- help and up

Not that he uses all of those regularly, but he clearly said them within the appropriate context of the conversation.  He already knows Hello, Bye Bye, Amin (as in Benjamin), Ball, Abbey, Happy, Eyebrow, Mama, Daddy, Nana, PawPaw, Nana DeeDee, and more I can't remember.  He is starting to respond to simple commands, like Eat and Bring that here.  It is amazing to see how much he is learning every single day.  Wow!  I knew the human brain was amazing, but seeing it at work like this is pretty cool.  It makes me think of how much bigger God really is than us.

The Good Samaritan

Luke 10:25-37

The Good Samaritan is probably one of the most famous 'stories' from the Bible, but when we look at it a little more closely we discover some things that someone might miss at first glance.  The man who began this discussion was an expert in the Law.  He quoted from Deuteronomy and Leviticus concerning the most important laws.  He understood we have to give God everything and we must love others.  Even though he understood this, he was still looking for a way out, so he asked who is my neighbor.  Jesus did not answer this question.  Jesus told him how to be a neighbor.  He knew the reason behind the question and he spoke to that.

In the parable, Jesus made sure to use examples that would challenge this man's world view.  He used a priest and a Levite, the highest in the 'holy' game of Jewish society.  Both of those in his example passed the man.  The one that tended to him was a Samaritan, a pariah in Jewish society.  Samaritans were not pure Jews.  They were a mixed race.  They were a people to be avoided.  We see this in the expert's answer.  He can not bring himself to say Samaritan.  He says, "The one who had mercy on him."

This Samaritan helped the guy out and that was wonderful, but let's look at the way he helped him out.  He bandaged his wounds.  He was willing to make himself unclean to help the guy.  He took him to an inn so he could rest and recuperate.  He also left money with the innkeeper in case the guy needed anything else.  He went out of his way, spent his money, and risked infection himself to help this guy.

A few lessons:  God doesn't always give us the answers we want.  He does give us the answers we need though.  Are we prepared to be a neighbor to ANYONE who crosses our path?  If not, why not?  Continue to check yourself and work on it.  When we do help a neighbor, are we helping them like we think they need or are we helping with what they actually need?  Let's be careful to help as we are called to and work on the need they give us.  For instance, people will say they don't want to give a homeless man money because he'll just use it on alcohol.  It is not our place to judge what he does with it.  If we are called to give, then give.  If he misuses that, it is not on our head, but his.

Feel free to fix anything I missed or add anything else you thought of.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Guilty of being rich

This past weekend I had some hard thinking to do about various subjects, but one of them was feeling guilty.  "Guilty for what?"  Guilty for being rich.  "Rich?  I thought you were a teacher."  I am a teacher, however simply by virtue of being middle class in the USA makes me richer than probably 75% of the rest of the world.  As I mentioned in my last post, I have seen a little of what poverty looks like when I was in Mexico.  That and my frugal upbringing have combined to really make me feel guilty for being rich.  Drew and I do sponsor a child in Guatemala.  We give often to charities as needs come to our attention.  I do so gladly and joyfully, but do I also do so selfishly?  Do I give to make myself feel better or is it really for God's glory and a genuine desire to help my fellow man?  Most of the time I do think it is a desire to help my fellow man and for the glory of God.  However, the guilt does remain.

I even feel guilty for a show of wealth from others.  For instance, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie bought like a $40 million dollar house somewhere in Europe this past week.  The probably have enough money and they certainly do good works as well, so don't they have the right to spend their money.  Yes, but I still feel guilty for them.  Was all that house really necessary?  What could have been done with that money?  Maybe the most important question, why is it my business?  It isn't, so why do I get obsessed about things like this.  Shouldn't people, myself included, be able to enjoy what God has given them without worrying about others every second of the day?  Yes and I often don't get caught up in this guilt, but some days I do and it is overwhelming.  At what point is this a healthy guilt that pushes me to remember the blessings God has given me and my responsibility to give to others and at what point is it unhealthy and unrealistic?  I don't have answers, but it is a struggle for me trying to balance these two ideas.