GUEST BLOGGER: OMG

I’m very pleased to introduce you to our next guest blogger. It’s my brother Ben! Ben is an incredible young man, and has always been one of my favorite humans on the planet. Yes, I’m totally biased. I am excited for you to read his post! – Sarah

If you were to listen to a conversation between two people, I would bet that it wouldn’t take too long for you to hear the phrase “Oh my God!” used in some form — whether it be “Oh my God”, “Oh my gosh”, “Oh my goodness”, or just plain old “OMG”.  This is one of the most frequently used phrases in our vernacular, and, in my opinion, one of the most interesting.

To further explain why this phrase interests me so, let’s examine one particular form: “Oh my goodness”.  Many people use this form so that they don’t use God’s name in a negative way, in order to abide by the law God put forth in the Second Commandment.  While this is admirable, I don’t think that using this form completely succeeds in keeping the Second Commandment.  Sure, ‘goodness’ is not the Lord’s name.  However, ‘goodness’ is God embodied in a single word.  God is goodness, and goodness is God.  Substituting ‘goodness’ for ‘God’ changes nothing, because there is nothing in this universe that better exemplifies ‘goodness’ than God.

Words and the way that we use them have always been interesting to me.  I’ve found that most of the time, we don’t fully understand everything that we say.  Sure, we know definitions and things like that, but, when we look closer, our words can mean a lot more than we think.  So next time when you’re shocked or surprised by something, think about what words you use to express it.  Goodness may seem worldly, but it’s actually not.  It’s the perfect embodiment of our Savior in just one word.

Until next time,
Ben

Find our guest blogger on the internet:
instagram: @benjamakosy
snapchat: @benjaminstephen
twitter: @benstemak

GUEST BLOGGER: What a Millennial wants, What a Millennial needs.

Hi everyone I’m excited to kick-off our ‘Boys of Summer’ miniseries by introducing Hunter! Hunter is a fellow Houghton alumni (he just graduated WOO CONGRATS!) and I’m so happy he was willing to hop on board this month as our guest. He’s amazing and HILARIOUS. Also, if you ever wanted to follow someone on twitter, Hunter is the man to follow. I hope you are blessed by what he has to share, as I am blessed to know him! – Sarah

What a Millennial wants, What a Millennial needs

Lots of current blogs claim to have “cracked the code” on getting millennials through their church doors. Millennials are tired of religion. They want an authentic spiritual relationship.
This generation wants relevant music and display so they are assured that the Church is
keeping up with the times.
They want to radically live out their faith, and that means going global with missions.
Some of these quotes may be true for some millennials, and most millennials can get behind the sentiment. However, these quotes sound more like products of “The Jesus Movement”, a revival in the 70’s that revolutionized the church. The movement was a reaction against the formal and dead appearance of the church of their parents and grandparents; a longing to present the gospel as being relevant to present times and cultural progress.
One cannot ignore the many positive impacts of this movement, bringing thousands to the faith and breaking down prior cultural barriers. However, each generation carries with it a different need, and I believe that this generation’s need is quite different than that of the generation of the Jesus Movement.
Millennials, inside and outside the church, crave authenticity. We hate posers. We value when people embrace their identity and wear it confidently on their sleeve. In large numbers, millennials simply want a return to true religion. A religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27
Yes, millennials want religion. We want what those in countless ages past had and we want to share in the ancient Christian narrative. And that is what Christianity is; it’s ancient. Tradition plays a role for all (Protestants and Catholics) connecting us to the long lineage of the gospel and reminding us that we are not alone in time. The church does not need to be dressed up as something that it isn’t. We are a incense-swinging, hymn-singing, scripture-chanting, robe-wearing, bread-breaking, creed-speaking, ancient religion, and we shouldn’t shy away from that. Embrace it and wear it confidently. This is why millennials are flocking to more traditional denominations in droves. We should look other-worldly, because we are. Outsiders don’t want “seeker-friendly”. If church looks the same as anywhere else, what’s the point of even going?
The millennial generation also despises hypocrisy. We say we love one another and we don’t truly bear with and take care of each other. We say we withhold judgment but we set double standards and rank sins and sinners. We say we take care of the poor and needy, but we don’t really unless it’s really convenient or it includes a vacation to a place with different looking people with whom we can take insta selfies #missions. Millennials want a religion that fosters genuine kindness and love for others. We want to take passages, such as “Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back”, seriously. Kindness toward our local communities that is motivated out of genuine love (not conversion) is a lost art for us. The homeless, the orphans, the widows, those in trouble; we drive past them like the priest and Levite who passed by the maimed man on the side of the road from Jerusalem to Jericho.
What millennials envision for the church is an authentic church, driven by Spirit-given kindness to serve those in need, including those in need in our own backyard. Our cravings for rich doctrine will drive us deeper in scripture, cultivating a deep love for humanity. I, for one, believe that God is going to use this generation in amazing ways to reignite passion for the ancient Christian gospel.

-Hunter

Find our guest blogger on the internet:
instagram: @hunuh17
twitter: @hunuh17

GUEST BLOGGER: Finding Peace

Bringing you another introduction to preface an awesome guest blogger post! This month’s guest is Kayla! Kayla worked with Christi and I this past summer at Camp Sandy Cove where she was in charge of all things pool (and then some). I loved every time I had to lifeguard a little bit more because it meant I got to spend time in Kayla’s presence. She’s fantastic and is going to do incredible things. This is her first ever blog post, and I can’t wait for you all to hear what she has to say! -Sarah

Finding Peace

Every morning I am in a rush out the door, I try to find enough time in my day for a decent amount of sleep and time to get everything accomplished on my to do list. I am constantly thinking about upcoming assignments, my work schedule, keeping in touch with my family, and making sure my friends still know I am there for them! I am sure you know that overwhelming feeling that can flood your mind at times and is sometimes difficult to drain. When I find myself in this situation I think to myself, “there is no point worrying about the things I cannot change,” As Philippians 4:6-7 reads, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus,” I ask God to take care of those things and trust in Him that He will. After this thought goes through my mind, that is when I find peace.

Peace:

  • Freedom of war
  • Tranquility
  • Mental calm
  • Harmony

Peace is a universal concept yet everyone may have his or her own way to define it. Even for me it has multiple definitions; peace is a place, a state of mind, security, and stillness. How do you define peace?

Peace is somewhere I can go to get away from my extremely busy life. Most often I find peace in my truck as I am driving to class, work or the gym. I am thankful to have a peaceful place, which I visit multiple times a day. Peace plays through my speakers while the hustle and bustle of my college campus surrounds me. As I sit at the stoplight I watch the students hurrying by trying to cross the street before my light turns green. I hear a lyric break through the static on the K-luv station “be still and know that he is God.” I am reminded of Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” If peace could scream it would scream this verse but instead you must seek peace in order to find it.  So often in life, we are distracted by the hundreds of things going on in our day that we forget to be still.  This verse reminds me of the power God has, letting it be known He is lifted to the highest power on earth and in heaven! Knowing the most powerful force loves me feels like a security blanket. By trusting in the Lord you too can have that comfort that He has a clear path for you, to not worry about the things you can not change but find peace in that your plan is specific for you. Lean on the Lord for guidance and strength and you can find peace within. I want to encourage you to find peace throughout your day, reminding you to talk to thank God, give your worries to Him and seek comfort through Him.

May you find Peace,
Kayla

Find our guest blogger on the internet:
instagram: @k4yyyyl4
snapchat: @kkaylabbrand

GUEST BLOGGER: The Impossibility of Joy

Keeping up with the trend of introductions before a guest blogger, today you’ll be hearing from Vicki. Vicki worked with both Christi and I this past summer at camp. I was lucky enough to have her as a roommate. She’s doing some really awesome things at another camp right now, and will be heading to Israel in the near future! We are happy to have her as a guest here, and I hope you’re blessed by what she has to share with you! -Sarah

The Impossibility of Joy

Romans 12:12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

Joy seems impossible sometimes.

Joy is hard to find when your depression hits you so hard that all you can do is sit down in the empty conference room you are supposed to be vacuuming and cry like you have a reason to. Joy is not what first comes to mind when you are told that you have a hormone disorder that is controlled by your menstrual cycle.

Joy won’t come when you are so numb from being overwhelmed that no emotion is possible and so you become catatonic, a statue that blinks and breathes.

Shame is the only emotion that makes sense to you.

Shame becomes the filter in which you live your life because you don’t deserve to feel joy.

This is where I am right now. I am struggling. I am learning to lower the screen of shame I hide behind. Some days are better than others. I will admit as I write this, today is a bad day. I don’t know how I managed to get out of bed this morning and get myself to work. My body feels heavy from trying to fight past the swamp of my mind. I completely broke down and sobbed while trying to clean the rooms I had been assigned. I have no explanation for my tears and that feeds into my shame. I have no reason to be sad, therefore, something is wrong with me. My shame tells me, I am wrong.

I know that this is not healthy and it has brought to me to the point of seeking help. But help is a process, it is exhausting, it hurts and it feels like I am losing the battle. I have Romans 12:12 taped on the wall next to my bed. I think about it constantly; it is hard to wrap my head around sometimes. “Be joyful in hope.” I understand hope and I understand joy but how do they go together? Hope can be such a crushing feeling, hoping when I don’t understand is so hard for me. Hoping when I can’t see the end is not something I do with gladness in my heart. I want this to be a possible action in my life.

Amid my tears earlier today, I thought of this verse. Oddly enough I felt hope. It wasn’t the normal heavy and confusing hope I feel; it was soft and light. It was just enough for me to remember that I am loved by God. It was a hope that gave me a glimpse into a time when I won’t feel like this. It was just a moment but it was what I needed.

Even though I had a positive moment today I still can’t bring myself to act on my joyful hope. I still feel cloudy and surrounded by shame. But I have hope that joy is not going to always be impossible. I have several baby steps to take before I see results.

Something I greatly struggle with is seeking out friendships and being vulnerable with other people. I don’t have a reason for this. I am just not in the habit of sharing everything about myself to others. I like to be in control of what people know about me. But if you were to ask me questions, I won’t lie to you. Being vulnerable is not natural to me, so I am learning to lean into the discomfort. In all honesty, it sucks. I hate it. But it is necessary. My counselor has recommended the work of Berne Brown to me. I relate so much to this woman, it is scary. Her lecture has helped me put joy and emotion in general into greater perspective.

So, this is what I will leave you with:

Joy is beautiful. Shame numbs everything. God is good. Hope is guiding me out of this mess.

Thanks for reading,
Vicki

Find our guest blogger on the internet:
instagram: @agnesrulz

GUEST BLOGGER: Something about Love

Hello there friends! Just a quick note before this post! This is our first guest post. They will be every third Tuesday of the month UNLESS it’s a month with five weeks, then they will be on Thursday. Our first guest blogger is my (Sarah’s) friend Sarah. I know what a coincidence we are both named Sarah, and are such good friends right? She is a wonderful human who I met at the first camp I ever worked at. I’m excited for you all to hear from her! -Sarah

Something about Love

I’m sure you all have heard something in the past few days about the holiday coming up. Well, I guess now today’s the day! I guess I find myself floating in the middle of the spectrum for feelings on Valentine’s Day. Allow me to explain – I think Valentine’s day is so much fun. Sure, it’s a commercial holiday, chocolate and teddy bear companies make millions. Hey – sue me for thinking it’s fun to make a cute card with a cheesy note and sparkly heart stickers on it! But the day also tends to remind me about my current relationship status: and that would be “single as a pringle”.

When I was asked to jump in and write on love, though, I was stoked. It’s been a topic on my heart and on my mind a great deal lately. My closest friends are now all in relationships, I’ve been crushing on someone, and, of course, V-Day has been creeping up on us. I’ve gone through the motions of “When will it be my turn?” all the way to “I trust God to bring me someone more amazing than I could ever dream.”

I don’t think singleness isn’t what has been my main problem. I’ve been dealing with something that I imagine everyone faces, whether they’re in a relationship or not. I get so caught up in earthly things – education, technology, romance – that I don’t remember that God is so much greater than all of these. And He has been so gracious to remind me when I start to get distracted. Just this past week, I’ve been blessed by multiple pastors, a new book, and Scripture in reorienting me back towards the Lord.

So here’s a couple things God has put on my heart lately:

When God established the Old Covenant with His people, He gave them laws, they said they could keep them, and swore by sacrifice. They knew if they didn’t keep the promises they made, they would be in trouble. When they forgot and ignored God’s law, He brought them into judgment. But when they came to a time where they questioned if He was still for them, He made the promise of a New Covenant. He didn’t want death and destruction for His people. When He promised the new covenant for His people, He made these promises – “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts… For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” Jeremiah 31:33-34

“But God demonstrates His love for us in this – that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8. Knowing humanity was unable to keep the Lord’s commands on our own, He made a way for us to come back to Him. Jesus’ blood fulfilled the New Covenant (Luke 22:19-20), and we were brought into a new relationship with God. Through this New Covenant, we’re granted a few things: the desire and ability to obey God, the ability to know God intimately (both through the power of the Holy Spirit), and permanent forgiveness of our sins. We no longer shed our own blood as a repayment for our failure to keep God’s commandments, rather we are promised that Jesus is the guarantor (Heb 7:22), and the mediator (Heb 9:15) of the new covenant. His sacrifice and His alone is what guarantees our relationship with God.

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:9-11. Jesus came to this world so be the sacrifice that saved us. What an amazing love. He came so that we might have life abundantly (John 10:10).

He also tells us that if we abide in Him, we will bear much fruit (John 15:5). What the heck does that mean? Well, not only do we get to know God intimately, but as we abide in his Word, life, and love, we are made more and more like Christ. That means as we get to know God more, we start to see things the way He does, and love like He does. We come to know more of the kind of love He has for us. He sent His son for a broken, disobedient and ignorant people – to save us, that we may have life and joy in Him (John 15:11).

Thinking about that brings me back to a pretty joyful place. I have been reminded that my God loves me, pursues me, and saves me from death and destruction. Though I know I couldn’t ever repay Him, I’d say that deserves the biggest Valentine’s Day card of all.

Wishing you abundant joy, peace, and blessings –
Sarah

Find our guest blogger on the internet:
instagram: @hell0sarahh
twitter: @hell0sarahh
wordpress: https://rockpaperscriptures.wordpress.com/