Tuesday, May 22, 2012

salt in our blood

We had our first beach trip of the year. (I was pretty much withering after not having had a dose since October). We were gone for an entire week--no computer, no internet, just consistent sunshine and tans and amazing food.

I finished seven books. BLISS.

"All of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, 
and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. 
We are tied to the ocean. 
And when we go back to the sea—whether it is to sail or to watch it—we are going back
 from whence we came."
-John F. Kennedy

We went to the same weird, cute little house that we went to almost exactly a year ago. I had memories of reading school books typing up the rough draft of my graduation speech.

I wish I hadn't remembered how awesome pudding was. The addiction got really out of hand.

Me, my sunburn, and my pudding.

I've been trying to read Augustine's Confessions for a super long time, mostly as a deep-book-that-I-actually-got-through-and-therefore-feel-empowered, but then I finally started reading it and BAM--it's amazing! It's glorious how something from so, so long ago is so eerily relevant and applicable.

This is my elephant rock. ♥

Of course there was a daisy laying on the beach. (?)

Major creeper-fish. I guess it was dead, but one can't be sure.

And then I came home to sun and green and my computer and my cork board and everyday life, which is tougher than reading for hours, but is also very, very good. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

against tolerance

{I've been convicted lately about this, and here's the first in a serious of posts on some things I want to think about. I'm writing this one first, since I feel like it's something that we as bloggers are particularly prone to.}

"I am the way, and the truth, and the life..."
John 14:6

We've picked up one of the lies that has warped our world--that there's a truth for you and a truth for me. Everyone finds their own truth. Jesus Christ for me, and whatever feels right for you. It’s all good, it’s all truth, it’s all the same. The definition of loving our neighbor has come to mean celebrating everything that they believe without question, and it's considered impolite to disagree with someone else’s beliefs.

Not all tolerance is bad. It's great for secondary issues like taste in music and favorite superheroes, but not for Jesus Christ.

When did we stop believing Jesus? When did we stop standing up and telling the truth about the one true Hope for the lost world? When did we start apologizing for our God? When did we start admiring lost unbelievers for their rejection of the Savior of our souls?

If we are Christians, then we believe in Christ. If we believe in Christ, we believe that he is the only possible truth. Jesus never says “I am a truth. But there are others, so if you feel led to follow those, go ahead." We're in his army, or we're not--and if we're not in his army, we're fighting against him. There is no middle ground.

“Christianity, if false, is of no importance, 
and if true, of infinite importance, 
the only thing it cannot be is moderately important.” 
-C.S. Lewis

Despite our culture's smug and peaceful-sounding claims, there is absolute truth, and if we think logically, it's undeniable.

“If your moral ideas can be truer, and those of the Nazi less true, 
there must be something—some real morality—for them to be true about."
 - C. S. Lewis

Why is it wrong for someone to murder another person? What if the criminal explained that murdering someone was right for him? The concept of no absolute truth just doesn't work.

So why? Why are we standing in the face of blasphemous statements like “there are lots of options, and I didn't choose the one involving Jesus” and responding with "I chose the Jesus option, but you should follow your heart." This is straight-up denying Christ. 

“He who does not hate the false does not love the true; 
and he to whom it is all the same whether it be God's word or man's, 
is himself unrenewed at heart.”
― Charles Spurgeon

We were in Chipotle (♥) the day after I saw the amazingness that is The Avengers, and I clutched my sister as we stood in line. "All these people! They haven't seen it yet!" I want everyone to see it and experience it and love it and let it blow their minds like it did mine.

This is just the tiniest, barely-comparable beginning of what we should feel like about Jesus. We should look at these people--especially the ones who we have any kind of relationship with!--and think "it's horrible that they don't know this glorious thing that is Jesus' salvation!" Kind of like me posting and raving and clutching people and spazzing about this movie I'm in love with, we should just overflow with the joy that is Jesus. Not only did he rock my world, he saved me from eternal damnation!

How much more important is Jesus than all the other things we spend so much time and energy pursuing/discussing/getting excited about? We might all say "Jesus is number one in my life!" but do we act like it?

And besides, Jesus shouldn't be "number one". He should be everythingpermeating and ruling and every piece of our lives. How can we shut up about him if he is our everything?

There's a wrong way to tell people the truth. Just because it's true doesn't mean we should beat them over the head with it. But people tend to use "it's not very loving to judge others" as an argument that we Christians should shut up when we try to talk about Jesus at all.

All of us--the ones who stay quiet and commend others for finding their own truth, and the ones who give the truth in the wrong way--I think we've forgotten what love is. 

"Yes, a multitude of sins are indeed covered by love,
 but that doesn't mean that they are just ignored or tolerated.
 No, love seeks the good of the sinner enough to rescue them 
from their sin by confrontation or admonition. 
In the Church of Christ, we have a clear unequivocal command 
to love others enough to boldly appeal to them to leave their sin."
-Doug Heck

Loving does not mean "live and let live". A doctor doesn't find out that someone is sick, and, not wanting to be offensive or make them feel bad, keep it to himself. The doctor tells them the hard truth, in a honest and gentle way, and then shows them what they can do to treat it. There is a cure!
If we truly love others, we want the best for them. When you love someone, you want the best for them. Loving means reaching out, involving them, doing life with them, not just lobbing the truth at them like hand grenades. Loving someone does not mean avoiding confrontation for the sake of "peace". 

“Love is not affectionate feeling, 
but a steady wish for the loved person's ultimate good 
as far as it can be obtained."
- C. S. Lewis

We don't speak truth to people because we have it all figured out--we want to tell them about the amazing and undeserved grace that Jesus has given. It's not about us--it's about him. If we have our heads on straight about this, we won't make mistakes in our attitude toward people.

We're all sinners, so when we speak the truth in love to others, it shouldn't be because they offended us, hurt our feelings, made us look bad. It should be because we can't hear that twisted thinking from a lost soul, ignore it, and just keep walking. We speak up because we love them.

Let's do this. Let's be honest, uncompromising, committed, wildly in love with Jesus Christ. Let's truly love people by speaking up. Only God can change their hearts, but we're responsible to give them the truth.

co-written by Hadley

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Avengers

I finally fulfilled my lifelong dream to see a movie on opening night.
And what a movie it was. 

Holy cow. Essentially: it was deeply, deeply fabulous. If you don't want to know anything at all about it, don't continue (although I don't give any spoilers), but know this: GO AND SEE IT.

Not only was it opening night, it was IMax 3D--as good as you can get. Sound so loud that it messes up your heartbeat and screen so huge and life-like that you flinch from arrows flying hurtling toward you and want to reach out and touch everything.

I sat between my amazing and most superhero-loving-est friends and spazzed. All movie long. There were moments where I literally could not even process the sheer awesomeness.

And when Thor finally made his thunder-ridden, angsty entrance, I screamed like it was a Disneyland ride or something. SORRY GUYS BUT I HAVE A LOT OF FEELINGS.

See, I'm not a superhero geek or anything--I don't know the comics, but I love every movie (that I've seen) that's led to this movie. The Avengers includes Iron Man (hoo boy), Captain America (one of the goodest good guys ever), the Hulk (never seen the movie but wow--I liked him), Hawkeye (briefly seen before but showcased fantastically and very attractively here), and--Thor. Always and forever.

I've been anticipating this ever since it was rumored to be occurring. It was worth the wait, and exploded my expectations. I deftly adored every single one of the many abundantly awesome characters. 

Thor was more beautiful and lion-like than ever before. Even more hair, even more smoldery blue eyes. He pulled off and rocked every bit of that beautiful blond hair. And I had forgotten/not prepared myself for the power and beautiful majesty of his voice (right up there with Mufasa). He blasts all my snobbery about not caring for accents right out of the water.

I have always loved and stood by Iron Man, even though he has is issues and his haters (many of which are my friends or relations). His personality, vibe, and choice of pants are absolutely irresistible. His character development/improvement just gets better in this movie. And instead of going back to former issues, he picked up where he left off in Iron Man 2--committed to Pepper (although sheesh I wish they would get married). And he was awesomer than ever before. Gah. 

I adore Captain America coolly. He's beautiful and his hair is comforting. He has the perfect face, voice, aura, and stance for a 1940's all-American hero. He's a good guy of the highest order. He is quietly brave and tough-as-nails at soul-level, and I love him, but (therefore?) I don't relate or rabidly adore his psyche in the same way as Iron Man and Thor. He is too sturdily flawless for a soul connection. 

In this movie, he's now misplaced in the 21st century after being frozen for 70 years (that's gotta be awkward), which creates some amusing confusion and gratifying angst (destroyed punching bags for. the. win). Somehow, I liked him way more in this movie-- I loved when he locked horns with the other guys, when he took charge, when he gutsily hung by fingertips, when he smiled hopefully about monkeys.

I've never seen The Hulk and never had had much of a desire to (Edward Norton--meh). Praise be, they changed the actor to a now gracefully albeit hobo-ishly aging Mark Ruffalo. Despite his peaceful, cozy-type doctor-ness, his transformation to shirt-destroying green beast is believable and gives me joy.

I've been explaining my delight and anticipation about Jeremy Renner to most anyone who will listen lately. I recently saw him in Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol and all my premonition instincts about how I'd feel about him were so spot on. Meaning: I absolutely love him.

I've always had a thing for guys with bow and arrows. Began with Errol Flynn and his rakish Robin Hood, continued with my preteen crush on Legolas (I'm not proud). But here, here was epic agile archer-ness with a heavy dose of straight-up hardcore superhero-ness. 

And purely aesthetically, his arms were framable. 

You're welcome.

I didn't know what to expect from the mind-bomb combination of sheer awesomeness that would be The Avengers, but the main thing I was worried about was the Black Widow. I have this instinctive dislike of Scarlett Johannsen, even though/because she's beautiful and a good actress. I wouldn't have any of that creepo-flirtingness that there was in Iron Man 2. I was ready to hate her at the deepest level if she got near any of the superheroes whom I love--I mean, they all have love interests, and it would just be horrific if there was any flirting or weirdness. 

However, I ended up really liking her, rooting for her, and also LOVING HER RED HAIR. I liked how, even though she was fighting along-side all the epic men, she was totally a woman and didn't try to be/seduce any of them. Much appreciated. I think my only issue with her was some awkwardly way-tight pants.

Nick Fury, whose name I adore but who I've never liked, won me over, too. In the other movies, he  shows up on occasion, randomly and irksomely. I'm still not a fan of anything really going on with Samuel Jackson's face other than the scars and his eyepatch, but I like him now.

I raged about Loki in Thor (just that some people LIKE HIM MORE THAN THOR AHEM), but I appreciated him much more in this movie. I love him as a bad guy--his twisted, diseased psyche, with calculated and deceitful snatches at power flowing out of being-the-inferior-brother issues, daddy issues, adopted issues, being-a-frost-giant issues. 

I personally get annoyed/fed up with bad guys whose main motivation is just sheer lust for power or money. I mean, that works, but it's not terribly original or pick-apart-able. I like when there are psychological scars and deeper, intrinsic warped-soul motivations.

The really incredible thing, is the smooth and perfect meld of all of these epic characters into just one movie. It had great potential for just being ridiculous/cheesy/over-the-top, but instead, everyone keeps their complete character, and are combined in a way that just makes each of them even awesomer. And, being on a COMMUNITY IS AWESOME kick, the whole let's-get-a-bunch-of-flawed-and-unstable-people-all-together-to-save-the-world thing was just. so. good. All kindsa Bible verses about this stuff, guys. For reals.

It's undeniable--the movie is chockfull-and-spilling-over with wildly muscular, very attractive men with great teeth, but I liked how they weren't gratuitous about it. It was understated in a way that made it that much more amazing. No skip scenes, no stupid girl stuff. They were smoking hot and courageous while saving the world, not being creeps with girls. 

It's definitely violent, but there's very little blood or really icky moments, and the language is fairly mild and limited. If you're not into action movies, it's probably not for you, since it's loud and proud and smashy.

It's sky-rocketed to my top-five-favorite movies, and I love it and recommend it more than I have any movie in very long time.

I loved it. I loved the story, I loved the special effects, I loved the amazing pants, I loved the character development, I loved the beautiful, colorful shots, I loved the hair, I loved the superheroes,