Thursday, July 28, 2011

New Method. Maybe.

Hey guys, I did a video blog for the first time. I'm not sure how it's going to go, but we'll see! I feel like I can talk about updates and things going on in my life more interestingly this way, so we'll see whether or not I decide to keep going with it. :) Here you go! Oh, and I have a few disclaimers:

1. I did this on Wednesday night, which is why it's all dark.
2. At the beginning I'm trying to say "Hey guys" but it got cut off, so all you hear is "..uys".
3. I have a brain fart in the middle of the video.... but that's okay.
4. Professors at Moody - We really DO love you. We just have a different relationship with Dr. Peterman.
5. Mom - I really AM glad that you commented on my Glee blog. It's nice to have a fan no matter what. :)

Also, let me know if you want whether I should keep doing video blogs, I should write, or whether I should do a combination of both. I want your input! :)

Thanks, everyone! <3

Monday, July 25, 2011

Glee: A Review.

Well, as some of you may know, a few months ago I posted a status on Facebook most ardently declaring my hatred for the T.V. show, Glee. However, I had only seen two episodes, and therefore I later realized that I needed to have a little more exposure to the show in order to actually make an intelligent judgment about it. Because of this, I ended up watching the entire first season, and am planning on watching the second season when it becomes available.

When I was first introduced to Glee (I watched 2 episodes from the second season) I despised and even almost *violently* hated the show. I couldn’t imagine why any Christian would want to watch it, and I couldn’t believe that such “filth” would be entertaining.


While I still maintain some of my thoughts from before, after watching the first season, I do not hate the show as violently as I did before. In fact… I actually find it fairly entertaining and fun.

In judging this show at the moment, I’m really trying to be objective. I DO think that this show has great entertainment value and the quality of the music is amazing. They also do a very good job at showing what our culture is like right now, and the things that our culture believes about teen pregnancy, homosexuality, religion, sex, the education system, etc.

I would say that this show very clearly has an agenda. In researching this show during my Apologetics class last semester (shoutout to Sawyer, Allie, and Evan) we saw that the worldviews of the creators and writers of the show very clearly come across in the plot and the music.

In doing this project, I was in charge of the technical qualities of the show (I knew that if I tried to have an opinion on anything else other than the technical aspect, I would have been too emotional and not fair to the show itself). I still hold to my belief that the aesthetic quality of the show is very high. However, the plot always leaves something to be desired. The plot lines are most often very shallow, and not only that, but they tend to be totally unrealistic. For example, there is an episode where Glee needs more members, and the football team is required to try out and if they don’t, then they will not be allowed to play in the homecoming game. Not only is that totally unrealistic, but some football players do not decide to sing with Glee until the last minute, and “magically” they know all of the music and dance steps.

I could go on for a while about the plot holes and lack of quality in the acting itself, but I’ll refrain. Instead, I think I will attempt to judge the moral quality of the show. This is a difficult one for me to do. I often become very emotional about whatever I’m trying to judge, and I judge it unfairly and I’m more biased than I would like to be. However, I’m going to try hard not to be like that right now.

Much of the show is very clearly against Christianity. In some senses, you could say that it is against religion in general, but the only religion that is really made fun of is Christianity. One of the episodes in the second season focuses on the “celibacy club” and they are shown to be na├»ve and ignorant Christians who think that the song “Afternoon Delight” is not talking about sex, but rather about having dessert in the afternoon instead of after supper. In Regional’s, Sue Sylvester has her singing group perform “Jesus is a Friend of Mine” in order to appease the judges who are “religious.” However, later the judge who is a nun reveals that she only became a nun in order to “stay off the poles.” The leader of the “celibacy club” is also revealed as not actually wanting to be celibate because she believes in abstinence but rather because she is afraid of sex and believes that it is wrong (even in marriage).

Other than just religion, this show is “edgy” (to say the least) in the moral arena. In the first season, the head cheerleader is pregnant, but after she has her baby, nothing more is said, and it is as if it never happened. There are constantly different love-triangles forming, the head cheerleader cheats on her boyfriend, he’s actually in love with another girl… And these things continue.

This show has a few redeeming qualities, however. As mentioned previously, the head cheerleader becomes pregnant during the first season. She gets pressure from family and friends to have an abortion (mainly from her mother) so that she can keep her figure, her status, and her reputation, but she very firmly declares that she is going to keep the baby. Equality between all people is also very prevalent – no matter the race, gender, background, abilities, disabilities, every person in Glee is treated equally and given respect. If they are not respected by any person in the show, it is obvious that this is wrong and unfair treatment, and it is rectified throughout the episode(s).

Overall, this show, while being shallow and very clearly having an agenda, it is entertaining and very accurately represents what is popular in today’s culture and how people think and believe about certain topics. When I first watched this show, I believed that no Christian should watch it with a clear conscience. However, my feelings have now changed on this issue. I believe that there is a right and a wrong way to go about watching it. If this show is merely a form of entertainment to the believer and they are not keeping their minds and hearts alert to what is going on, then I believe that this is not smart and could in time be very detrimental. This kind of attitude can lead to insensitivity to the aspects of culture which are against what the Bible says, and this may lead us into believing that those types of things are “okay” or even “right.”

I believe that the right way for a believer to go about watching this show (and I will NEVER be perfect at it) is to watch it with discernment and watch it through the lenses of the Bible. This is not easy to do, but it is very important in order not to be hardened by what the world says to be right and wrong. When I started doing this, it was helpful for me to discuss the issues in the episode with other people (i.e. Eric and other friends who cared to be discerning as well) and I realized that I started being discerning about other shows and movies as well.

It is critical for the believer’s mind to be engaged in whatever he or she is watching. Once we let go of our minds when it comes to secular culture, then we open ourselves up to the possibility of believing false doctrines and following the ways of the world. It is of utmost importance that we be discerning and know what we are talking about when it comes to shows like this or other aspects of culture so that we may be a true witness and light to the rest of the world. If we aren’t discerning, then we may lose our credibility with the world and we will not be as effective for Christ as we could be.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Forgiveness and Resentment.

You know, it's crazy how thin the line between forgiveness and resentment/bitterness can be. One minute I feel as though I have forgiven those people in my past who have hurt me, and the next... I'm feeling resentful and angry.

About a year ago, I was deeply hurt by a few people. I knew that I had done wrong in the situation, and I tried apologizing for it... but it was of no use. I desperately wanted (and still want) reconciliation to take place, but it never happened, and it was painfully obvious that it was not desired from the other side.

Even though it was a year ago, I still have a lot of pain from that situation. I have tried forgetting about it and moving on, but it's not that simple. I want to just forgive all those people who hurt me and hurt me on purpose, but it's not easy. Through those people's accusations of my character, I have had to wrestle through a lot of questions and doubts about who I am and who Christ sees me to be. I constantly question now my abilities to do ministry and to get along with others in ministry, and I question my motivations for doing the things that I do.

Though I do not question or doubt myself as much as I did right after everything happened, the pain is still evident. I have had some people in my life wonder why I can't just forget about it and move on, and why I'm holding on to it. The truth is... I don't know either. I desperately want to be free of these doubts and I want to have confidence in the abilities and talents that God has given me, but it feels almost impossible to do that.

I am the type of person that just wants to "fix" things. I want to fix everything that I've done wrong to anyone, and I almost always feel as though it's up to me to make things right, because I'm normally in the wrong (at least that's how I tend to look at it). I feel so great when the other person wants reconciliation as well, and I have had wonderful friendships blossom from those times of reconciliation. However... Feeling as though it is on me to fix everything tends to blow up in my face when the other person is not interested in any kind of reconciliation whatsoever. I beat myself up thinking that I have done something so bad to not even deserve forgiveness or reconciliation, and that because of my stupid behavior, I have lost the opportunity to make things right and be forgiven.

But the truth is... that is ALL a lie. I am not expected to in a sense humiliate myself and beg for mercy from others, but rather I am to do my part in apologizing for my share in the situation and asking for forgiveness. After that... I'm off the hook. If I have gone into my apology with the right attitude and truly desire forgiveness and reconciliation, then that's all that is expected of me. No more, no less.

This is why I love the book of Romans. So often I think that if I don't try hard enough, if I don't apologize to others and to God enough, then I'm going to lose credibility and I'm either no longer going to be loved or I'm going to be judged and condemned. But this isn't true. Though humans may fail me and may withhold forgiveness from me, my God will never do that. He calls me to do what I can in order to make things right, but no matter what, He will still love me. I don't need to go crazy trying to please everyone and make them happy with me - because the fact is, if I do everything that I need to do and they still won't forgive me, the responsibility for the situation no longer lies with me.

Too bad it's so stinking hard to remember that... But I DO need to remember Romans 12:18 which says, "If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all." If I have done everything I can in order to live peaceably with others, then that's all that I have to do. I can also take great comfort in knowing that even if I'm not forgiven by people or by my fellow believers, I have been forgiven by my God:

"Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God." (Romans 5:1-2)

"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:1)

"For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39)

Yes, I am a wretched sinner. Yes, I make stupid mistakes all the time and I don't treat people as well as I should. But I do know that I desire to make things right, and even if those things don't occur, I don't need to harbor resentment toward the other person or even believe that I haven't done enough to make the other person happy. Though I have been deeply hurt by these people, I don't need to be resentful or bitter toward them. I can forgive them, because that is exactly what Christ has done for me. They are fellow believers and fellow companions on this journey of life. Even(or maybe especially) if they are not believers, then it becomes that much more important that I forgive them and show them mercy and kindness - because that is what my Savior did for me.

There is such a huge part of me that wants to just do the same thing that those people did to me and refuse forgiveness. However, I know that this is the opposite of showing Christ's love to them. As much as my fleshly nature wants to harbor judgment and resentment toward them, I know that I need to forgive them and love them unconditionally. No, it's honestly not easy, and I'm probably going to really suck at it. But it's what God has called me to do, and maybe... just maybe... one day I will be able to move on from this and the pain will begin to decrease.

I know that this is a lesson that God will use to work in me for the rest of my life, and I know that I'm going to mess up so many times that I may not even be able to count them. But the beauty of it is... I am still forgiven. And thus, I must forgive others. No matter what.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Apartment and Life Together.

Well, I'm a day late in updating about our apartment, but I hope my readers will forgive me for that (all 2 of you) :).

So, right now we're living in one of the suburbs of Minneapolis, and we are just loving it. We are 20 minutes from downtown, 15 minutes away from the Mall of America, and what makes it all amazing is that it doesn't FEEL like we're close to a city! Living in Chicago, you would have to travel really far in order to feel like you're actually in nature and not part of the city. But here... well, here it's just awesome. There are parks and lakes everywhere (no, really. It's not called the land of a thousand lakes for nothing!), and just 15 minutes away there is a HUGE park where the river flows and there is an AMAZING waterfall! Eric took me there for our date a couple weeks ago, and it was so awesome. I kept telling him that I couldn't believe we lived so close to something so beautiful, because in CO you have to travel to the mountains in order to see something as cool as that.

As far as our apartment goes, I love that too. :) It's so cozy and nice, and I'm really excited to finish decorating it. We're almost there, which is really nice. We just need to pick up a few things and then put pictures on the walls. Our guest room isn't going to be ready anytime soon, but that'll definitely be a longer project that we do together at some point when we're not busy (which won't be happening anytime in the near future). Here are some pictures of our apartment for you guys. :)

Isn't it so cute? :) And I'm SO glad that we had an accent wall painted before we moved in. It makes things feel even nicer and homey. They did that for free too, which was really cool. We can have accent walls painted for a low cost in any of our rooms as well, so we might do that at some point to our bedroom and guest room. We have a BEAUTIFUL view out our porch as well, if you couldn't tell. There are also walking trails around the property, which is really cool considering we're literally right on the highway. I can hear the highway all the time, but it's not as bad as I thought it would be. It makes me feel like I'm in Chicago again, and I'm okay with that. After living there for so long I really got used to hearing noises all the time, so it's really strange (and eerie) for me when I don't hear anything at all. Plus, it's incredibly convenient to live right on the highway as well - it makes it SO much easier to get to everything! I'm really enjoying our location. It has been really nice so far. We have a grocery store that is, at the most, 3 minutes away from us, and the place where I get my hair cut is the same distance as well. We have a gas station with reasonable gas prices (2 stations, actually) right on our block, and we have multiple restaurants right by us.

So... on to what our life actually looks like together. It's definitely busy and we're running around all the time, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. Marriage just fits us. We had such a difficult time with our long-distance relationship, and now that we're married.... it just works. It's like we were supposed to get married or something. ;) But really... it's great. We're really enjoying being together. Eric works a lot which is sometimes frustrating, but definitely understandable. And with all our bills and payments that we have to make, it's a good thing that he's working as much as he is - we need the money! (Doesn't everybody?)

I also got a full-time job, which I am INCREDIBLY grateful for! I am a barista at Caribou Coffee, and I couldn't be happier. I've always wanted to work at a coffee shop, and I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to do so. It has definitely been a challenge to get used to it and learn everything that I need to, but I'm hoping that soon I'll get the hang of it and things will just come naturally. I know what some of you may be thinking: But what are your plans for a long-term career?

...Honestly... I don't really have any. And I'm okay with that. I was just recently asked by someone at church when I told them where I was working what my long-term goals were (really nice guy, but definitely a business man) and I felt bad at first for being so excited to work at Caribou. However, once I started thinking about it, I realized that it doesn't really matter what I'm doing. I'm loving what I do, and that's what matters. I make decent money, I get awesome benefits, and Caribou is an amazing company to work for. I couldn't be happier. And who knows... maybe one day I'll be able to work for corporate! Now THAT would be really cool. :)

So, I DO have daydreams about things that I could do one day, but it's really all in God's hands. I am completely content with where He has placed me right now (which actually took a while, so I'm thrilled that I'm at that place now), and I'm looking forward to seeing what He has in store for me here. God is good, and I know that His plans are better than any that I could have for myself. So... because this opportunity for Caribou opened so easily, I walked through it without any reservations or regrets, because I know without a doubt that it came from Him.

Well, this ended up being a really long post. I'm sure I'll update you all again in the very near future on our life and what's going on. Love you!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Finally, An Update.

Well, after being SO excited to get married and updating everyone on it... I failed at updating AFTER we got married. I can't believe it's been so long since I've been on here! I guess things HAVE been pretty crazy around here - but it's been really good. So... I'll go back to the beginning.

The wedding was AMAZING. The 3 weeks after graduation leading up to the wedding were absolutely insane, but it was so worth it in the end. The wedding was completely perfect - it was everything that I had hoped it would be, and I wouldn't have changed one single thing. I couldn't believe it turned out as well as it did, but the people at the Chateaux were amazing. I couldn't have asked for a better team to work with. I would definitely recommend anyone getting married in CO to get married there! It's a beautiful location, and the people who work there are just so nice and accommodating. Here are a couple pictures for you guys. :)

Okay - so first of all, I realize that was more than a couple pictures but... I couldn't help myself. ALL the pictures were amazing! Our photographer did a phenomenal job. Secondly, I know they're not in order - I wanted them to be in a specific order, but they didn't cooperate with me when I uploaded them, and I'm SO not in the mood to either re-upload them or mess with the html code. So.... oh well. :)

But that's just a taste of our wedding! It was just so beautiful and wonderful, and again, I couldn't have asked for anything better. My whole family and my friends were absolutely amazing, too! My Mom helped with SO much of the planning and really helped me pull everything together, and I had the world's best matron of honor! I feel so blessed that everything went so well.

Hm... I think I'll leave the update there for now. I'll update tomorrow most likely on married life and our apartment. :) I'd rather not overwhelm/bore everyone with SO many details in one blog post. :)

Love you all! <3