Here's to the Class of 2017

Everything you are feeling and thinking about is valid. You are allowed to be slightly crazy, you are allowed to feel like life is messy, because truthfully...it is, sorry but there is no sugar coating that one. You are the graduating class of 2017, so here are 17 things that I want to tell you:

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What's next?

I just finished my last ever fall semester as an undergraduate student. To some, their first thoughts might be... "YES! Finally, a break."

"All I'm going to do is sleep, watch Netflix and eat."

However, here are my thoughts...

"I have to graduate next semester, I haven't learned anything. How am I supposed to get a job...like a real job."

"If I fail all my classes, I'll have to stay in school, and then I won't have to start paying off my loans either, it's brilliant."

Now, I know what you are thinking. "Stop acting crazy, it's going to be fine. You have learned things and you will be ready." In my mind though, fear has it's hands grasping at every thought. I don't do well when it comes to uncertainty and change. The funny thing is that for most of my life, the theme has been uncertainty. Growing up, I never knew what I would be coming home too, I didn't know if I would have friends at school certain days, and I didn't know why I was even living most days. As you grow older, uncertainty tends to grow bigger. In a matter of hours I could have a new apartment or I could be back out on the hunt. I could put in a hundred applications for jobs I care less about or put in a couple for ones I care most about. I can enjoy the crazy wonderful weirdness of being in a relationship or I could end it and go back to the secured independence of singleness. Life is full of uncertainty and it takes a great deal of vulnerability to help get through those times.

When we begin to release vulnerability, we become uncomfortable, and stepping out of comfort is one of the most courageous things you can do.

Uncertainty is uncomfortable.

Being uncomfortable means you are growing.

When we stop playing it safe and we fully give in to the uncertainty that life may hold, walls begin to break and truth enters the soul.

I had the privilege to FaceTime with a friend who is very near and dear to my heart the other day. She is the type of person that I am proud to say I look up to in more ways than one and I doubt she will ever really know the extent to which she has helped me grow closer to God and learn to love myself. We were talking and as I was casually explaining the fears of having to figure my life out in a matter of months, she calmly just says, "No you don't...you don't have to figure out what you are going to do with the rest of your life, you just  have to figure out what's next." In those two words, life looked a little different, it looked a little bit more manageable. I suddenly wasn't as afraid of the uncertainty, I became more excited about what could be next. I love the quote that says, "If you want to make God laugh, show him your plans." I'm pretty sure I could be a jester in God's court by how much I probably make him laugh. So instead of me trying to plan, I'm asking God what's next and letting him do the work.

As for today, I will keep on praying for doors to be opened and doors to be closed. I will pray for wisdom and I will pray for courage. And to those who are feeling stuck in the same boat...

What's next for you?

From one human to the next,

Michelle

 

Is Belief in God Good, Bad or Irrelevant?

It has been three years since I have given my life over to Christ. In these three years I have been challenged beyond belief in every single part of life. This book has not made anything any easier. If one book has made me doubt my faith and made me question everything I believe in, this has been one of the top. Preston Jones and Greg Graffin create an atmosphere that made me engaged in both sides of the debates in all areas talked about. There were specific things that Graffin had written about during the Theism vs. Naturalism section. Graffin and Jones are discussing back and forth immensely during this section and Graffin makes this statement “The stories and ‘truths’ we we are told in the first six or seven years of life are what form our worldview…(Remember it took about 300 years for the general population to believe the stories elucidated by Copernicus that the sun, not the earth, is the center of the solar system!)” (56) Graffin is talking about evolution and the way society has been teaching children. He firmly believes that within about 100 years, Darwinism will be understood and accepted. This caught me off guard, in school we are just taught what either teachers believe or what they were taught to believe. Graffin makes a strong argument here, mostly because in the prime ages of six and seven, children are adapting to rules of school, and general society. Their eyes become fixed on what they are being shown and becoming enthralled by the information. These children can then grow up only to believe what they are taught, but without the reasoning behind it. Jones however, plays a battle with Graffin. The two have gone head to head, round after round, trying to get the other to slip or Fall. (See what I did there?) The Fall is a huge topic, and one that almost every theologian or basic white collar folk has heard of. Traditionally, Christians view the world today as being a consequence of the Fall or “man’s rebellion against God.” (79) Graffin didn’t really have too much to say about the topic though. Graffin gave the naturlaist point of “a naturalist would acknowledge that suffering exists, feel terrible about it, and search for a way to cure it!”(83) All that sounds good and wonderful, but it leaves so much questioning. Jones does a good job of truly explaining the Christian view of “God doesn’t want the world to be like this; and when the curtains fall--when he ends it--the world to follow won’t be like this.” (81) This to me trumps the naturalist view in one word...hope. Without hope, what do we have? Not everything is solved or cured and who knows how long it could take or if that is even possible. I am I firm believer in biology and the strides it has taken but I also believe in having hope for a better future because this world is broken. Instead of saying “wow, this world is rough, this world is bad” I would rather say “...yes, the world is warped--here’s why, and here’s what you can hope for.” (82)

Living at the Crossroads

I am currently taking a course on Christian Perspectives, and I am not going to lie...it is kicking my butt. Never have I heard so many foreign terms or had so many theological debates. We have been reading a book titled, "Living at the Crossroads" and our first assignment was based off of our reading and understanding. The question primarily asked what the book said was the primary, non-negotiable parts of the gospel. Based on the book the core, non-negotiable part of the gospel would be that “the gospel is the public truth, universally valid, true for all people and all of human life.” The book talks about the gospel as being God’s specific message about the work being done to restore humans and this world. The gospel, is the true story of the world. I have only been in a church for about two years now and as I have been able to travel over seas as well, I have seen the compromise that the Western Culture can play in misrepresenting the Gospel. People may believe that it’s the “white-person life” or that you even have to be American to have Jesus. However, we do see constantly as well about people going out and doing as the bible says to of “making disciples of all the nations”, recognizing that everyone needs Jesus not just the Western culture.

When looking at faithful contextualization, it is good to recognize the culture someone is talking about. In the book, Goheen, the author is speaking about Paul’s missionary time and putting the way a family structure works in that context, during that time, not during our western culture right now. When interpreting the bible, I think that is one of the first mistakes we tend to do, we jump straight into our world instead of looking at the context. It also talks about the three dimensions about discerning faithful contextualization such as creational design, cultural idolatry and healing potential. Right now, I am an International Psychology major at WJU. A good portion of psychology is dealing with people and counseling. Something that I will ask myself when it comes to my major is, what is it exactly I want to structure my major around. I know that I want to go and teach English over seas and spread the news of Jesus but am I doing it in the right context? I also have to look at the way I represent titles, am I doing it because I want the people in that culture to look up to me or because this is truly what Jesus has called me into. I loved Newbigin’s quote about “how can a Christian remain faithful to his or her apostolic identity, bearing witness to the true story of the Gospel, and yet be involved in the public life of a culture that has been shaped by a wholly different story.” (165) Each view has a strong background and holds a lot of power. It is interesting to look at teachers especially over seas that have been there for years and still remain faithful to their own views.