Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Camping and the Book Fair

I’m sorry I have not posted in a while, but I have been gone for almost two weeks and have not had internet access or time to make a post. First off, we went to the Home-school Book Fair at the beginning of the month and spent two days there. We set off at 6:00 in the morning and arrived at about 8:15 at the hotel adjoining the community center it was held in. We checked in, received our name tags and looked around for a little while before we (my sister and I, very much obsessed with chess) headed to the chess section. The chess section is in the corner of the community center away from most of the traffic and is in my opinion the best part of the Book Fair. I must admit I was rather upset when we had to go eat lunch at twelve o’clock and was extremely impatient to get back. 

When we returned I continued to play chess until we left to go and eat supper at a Vietnamese restaurant and go to a couple of Half Price Bookstores. At one of these bookstores there was a moment of panic and comedy when one of the people we were with, (it was me), turned a coffee machine on without the pot under it and spent the next five minutes trying to clean up the spilt coffee and figure out how to turn it off. When we got back to the hotel we went swimming and got in bed around 11:30 or twelve. Unfortunately the coffee I had drank (the spilt coffee which I had poured into a foam cup from the machine at the HPB Store) was caffeinated and I was up most of the night lying awake in bed.
The next morning we had breakfast and I was down at the Book Fair and at the chess section, right after the doors opened. There was a little crosswalk between the hotel and the community center which allowed for easy traffic between the buildings and was handy for running back to the hotel to get things. The first person I played was somebody I had played the day before and we proceeded to play a game (which I won). Then he had to go and I played three more people in between helping the chess-master write up cards for those entering the tournament that day and taking pictures. After lunch in the hotel, I walked back down to the Book Fair and passed several of the people I had played in chess sitting in the cafeteria so I talked with them for a moment. When the tournament started I was asked to score the cards for those playing in the tournament and I was very busy till I went to hear one of the workshops on filming. After that we left to go home. I played a total of eighteen games and won fourteen of those. Two of the ones I lost, I lost because I played the previous champion of the tournament who was really good. The only downside to the trip was the fact that I messed his (the previous chess champ) card up and so he had a draw with somebody else because he played black instead of white like he was supposed to. Now of course, I don’t know how the game would have turned out if he had been white instead of black but I cannot help feeling guilty about it. (The draw cost him first place which was probably given to his brother who he was better than but just never got the opportunity to play.) Anyway, we had a very fun time.

Ok, the other reason why I have not been posting was because of a week-long camping trip to Arkansas which we went on last week with six other families.  The previous post was fairly long so I shall sum up what happened. We got there and unpacked, set up camp and then went swimming. We swam across the lake and hiked up the mountain, ate blackberries and then came back down. We had lunch, swam some more, and played Ultimate Frisbee. A very awesome game of Ultimate Frisbee because my brother, his friend and I were on the same team against about six other people and beat them without giving them a single point. I must say that was very fun. Over the next couple days we had kayak wars with rented kayaks, threw pinecones at each other, played Frisbee in the water, swam a whole lot, ate wonderful camp food (including crawfish we caught and boiled alive) and danced. Danced you ask? Yes. We hooked up an I-pod to a speaker and danced for a long time. The best day would have been on my birthday, the 19th. (Maybe you noticed my little ‘About Me’ has changed to fourteen years?) We had stuffed blueberry French toast in the morning, had lots of kayak wars, went swimming and danced some more. In the middle of our dancing the adults came over and sang Happy Birthday and gave me some presents and then we continued dancing. We had a GREAT time. It was our last night so it was a very good conclusion to the trip. The next morning we packed up and went to some waterfalls where we swam down the current, jumped off rocks, and had two flat tires. (We didn’t have them, our friends did) Then we caravanned back home. On the way home we stopped at a Mexican restaurant (all of us, so about 26 people) and stayed there about an hour or more until we separated and went home. That was definitely the best camping trip I’ve been on.   

Monday, May 14, 2012

Matthew 10:16-42

 This is a much revised edition in place of my last post about Matthew. Enjoy and tell me what you think!

I recently read Matthew 10:16-42 and wanted to post my thoughts on it since I was struck by some of the things it said which had not occurred to me before. For those of you not familiar with the passage:

 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.  Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say,  for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death.  
You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.  When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
“The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master.  It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household!
 “So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.  What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs.  Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.
But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.
 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.  For I have come to turn
“‘a man against his father,
    a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law —
   a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’
 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.  Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.  Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

I would like to start with verse 34, where he says that he has not come to bring peace but a sword. For some reason, I had always thought that the message of the Gospel was peace and of course, in a sense it is, but I had always thought that peace was the ultimate virtue, something we should be always eager for like it was a sin not to be at peace. But really, peace is one of the things that we are not going to encounter very often in our walk as believers if we are preaching the Gospel because the average non-believer cannot accept Christ. Paul states it clearly that until the Holy Spirit has opened the mind of a man he cannot receive the Gospel and believe it because Satan is the ruler of this world and he has taken over man’s soul as John Bunyan said so wonderfully in his book ‘The Holy War’. We should try to be at peace with the world so far as it is in our power, but the non-believer cannot accept Christ and therefore cannot accept us, which causes the strife and conflict which so many martyrs and missionaries have endured and died because of.

However, it should not be our person which causes the strife. We should not be arguing or causing conflict. Christ’s deity and person itself should be the only thing that causes the conflict, because it will cause conflict whatever we do because he cannot be accepted by the person whose mind has not been opened as I said before. Of course, after I thought about this it was clear to me how Christ could not come to bring peace because His person is the cause of the conflict! And I felt that this passage would be very encouraging to missionaries. (I mean, this chapter was devoted to instructing the disciples before he sent them out into the world to preach the Gospel. Verses 26-29 and verses 38 and 39 talk specifically to encourage the missionary and those preaching the Gospel, and to warn them.) He also goes on to say that whoever loves his father or mother more than Him is not worthy of Him and tells us that, ‘brother will turn against brother and father against his child’ because of Him and it is because of Him as I said before and Paul said and Jesus said in Matthew 5 in the last verse of the Beatitudes that they will do this. As missionaries we should not be afraid of the conflict but be steadfast through it all for great is our reward. We should not be afraid to offend for the sake of the Gospel, even if it means alienation from our family, relatives and closest friends for unless we do that we are not worthy of Him. I love this passage because I have been thinking a lot about missionaries and martyrs lately and this sums up so perfectly what is required of those preaching the Gospel to the unbeliever.  
Before I finish up here, I’d like to add also that we are definitely to be peacemakers amongst ourselves, in the Body of Christ, but just like when preaching to the unbeliever, we should not be afraid to offend if one of those in the Body goes astray. We should always do everything in love which means lovingly bringing those who go astray back to God’s truth without asserting that our way is ‘THE ONLY WAY’ and condemning those who do not follow us all the way through the intricacies of principles and theology. Paul mentions a group of people in Philippians who were preaching the Gospel out of wrong motives and said at least the Word of God was being preached. These are the same people whom he addressed as dogs in Galatians, yet he said it was enough that they were preaching the Gospel. If we differ in opinion with another good person (not in any way a ‘dog’) over a technicality of theology, should we argue over it? Should we make denominations and alienate ourselves from other members of the Body who are of a different denomination just because they have slightly different views then us? Isn’t it enough that they are preaching the Word of God and that they are saving lives? If they agree with us on the resurrection, crucifixion, removal of sins by Christ’s blood on the cross and other such fundamental teachings isn’t that enough? We should not be at war among ourselves in the Body. We are supposed to be an example to the entire world! Everyone is watching the Christian and what he does and how are we supposed to save people if what they see when they look at us is bickering and arguing over ‘slight technicalities”? to quote Princess Bride. I cannot stress how much I dislike the separation I see in the Church through denominations. I believe I once heard that there were three thousand denominations in America but that can’t be true. How could we have done that? It is incredible. We must be at peace amongst one another in the Body.

It is late and I ought to be in bed so I will have to stop. I would LOVE to continue to discuss this and would really like my followers and readers to share their opinions with me. Also, check out my post on Martyrs and my clarification post on Revenge. I love to discuss and debate but the only opportunity I get is being an attorney at Teen Court.  Thanks for reading and please share your opinions I will !