Monday, April 22, 2013

Focus on the Heartbeat

Tonight I heard it, or felt it, almost tasted it even. What was "it"? The closest thing I can describe it as, was the heartbeat of God. It felt like I had reached out and touched the pulse of the world in all of its fast pace, the good and the bad. In my mind I could see cities and neighborhoods. I saw all ages, people, even countries worlds away. I could briefly hear the singing of a distant third world church. I felt connected to them in a way I have not felt ever before. With all this came this immense feeling of peace for people, and a desire to help. I held no grudges, felt no anger. There was an abounding love pouring into and out of me. The most astonishing thing to be was the feeling of detachment though. In the past I have always been a person who wants to please others, live up to their expectations, to have life planned. Tonight I let them all go. Every expectation for my life, every desire I have had, I put it down. I smile even now as I type, feeling the dust or travel on my feet. I know I am not home. I felt for a moment like a wanderer, taking the opportunities to love as they came, not attached to a plan or agenda. We always come to the thrown lonely, naked, and poor, and I am not different, coming into this world with nothing. The Bible says to the lukewarm church in Rev 3: “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.” And once he has clothed us, loved us, and given us a place with Him, He asks that we bring others to Him so he can do the same for them.
I felt my call again, a desire to do the work of the Lord with all my life. It was like an echo of a song I couldn’t resist. I let everything go, not in a way where I don’t care or give up. I don’t feel apathy or darkness, the way I usually deal with pain or fear. I felt hope! I felt like nothing people expected of me mattered, and nothing I expected of me mattered either. I feel like I can go anywhere, and do anything as I am called. Right now though He asked me to wait, to love where there was opportunity, to keep my eyes focused on Him. I asked for His plan, but He told me to just take it as it comes. I have never felt so free. Though a small part of me wants to know what He is going to do, most of me just sighs in relief. I can feel joy tingling through me. Joy really does come after pain. God has changed me, and I don’t want to go back, not ever. He told me I would be grounded in His plan again soon enough, but still free. I am Christina, far from home, belonging only to God, waiting for marching orders.  I hope you hear the heartbeat, I want to hear it again, hear it every day for the rest of my life.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Anime Life (Some Awesome Things Anime’s have Taught Me)

Ok, so I haven't seen too much anime, but what I have watched I have really enjoyed. Obviously, like any genre there are good and bad, and some that are mixed. Some of my favorite include my childhood favorite; Digimon, and more recent watches; Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, and Soul Eater. Plus, some awesome movies (Miyazaki's stuff for sure!) and games. Overall I have always been impressed by the character depth that the writers put into these. In most cases, characters are not just defined as “good” or “bad,” they are mixed, all of them.
Here are some cool concepts I have over and over in anime:

Viewpoint is important: 
Often I find I have to correct myself for feeling as though someone is wrong for doing or believing something I wouldn’t. Now, I do believe there is a right and wrong, a true morality, but for many things, people act based on their experience. Anime’s help remind me of this, that where one comes from and what they have learned is right, effects how they act toward the world. Often, in anime, even the “enemy’s” believe they are doing the right thing from their perspective. Even main characters do things that they feel is right, but end up wrecking more havoc than not having done anything. I suppose this is another big anime concept, the importance of choices, they never just effect us.

Self-sacrifice is crucial: 
Self-sacrifice for the general population isn’t a huge topic in individualist cultures like ours. Unless it is someone we love, sacrificing ones-self seems counterproductive (probably explains why we allow such a thing as a homeless veteran to happen). Often in anime characters will sacrifice their own selves to save the greater population from evil. I remember, even as a child, finding that fascinating. In many of these shows characters would literally sacrifice their lives or "life-forces" for the greater good, in hope of a better future. These were intense moments of both sadness and hope, such a strange combination. Don’t shield yourselves from that reality, it is the truth of freedom not being free. For life there is always death. Even our very own Jesus died, sacrificed His own self, because He knew how much we needed to be free.  

Forgiveness, Atonement, and Redemption: 
This is probably my favorite topics of anime. It is the intensiveness of true hope. The evil characters can be seen as trapped by their own evil, and also need saving. It is easy as people to fall into the trap of seeing other people, especially those who act in true evil, as the enemy. We see the cruel things they have done, and desire to see justice done (but we deserved justice too!). As Christians though, we must see them as they really are! Victims, captives of their own sin and evil. These are the people who need saving, the ones that are wrecked by pain and sin. Nothing brings me more pleasure than watching the character you thought was the villain in the beginning, see their mistake, ask for forgiveness, and find redemption. It isn’t instantaneous, often a journey ensues, or a search for atonement, but they find themselves later, fighting the very thing they were. It reminds me to have hope for people, all people. Jesus died for sinners, me, you, all of us. Every person has a chance, not all will take it, but there is forgiveness and redemption. If you forget one day, look into your own heart and see how you too need saving. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn says “the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.” That is true enough.

Anyway, I am sure there are many things to learn from many places, these are just a few I noticed while watching some of my favorite anime. No go watch anime and look for these things!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

God Still Moves like Pentecost

Today I would like to write something different, since I tend to write when I am deep in thought or struggling. I want to write about God moving. I feel as though I am hearing the sound of change, right now, here in my own youth group. What God has been speaking about change seems to be happening, and I am excited! Last week the Holy Spirit fell on the group, so much so, that when the youth pastor dismissed with the band still going, no one left. As I stood in the back I felt the strongest urge to pray in tongues over them, which is not very usual for me. As I did so, I felt like I sat at the front of a battle, with the glory of God pouring through me, I literally could not stand. As I laid on the ground praying words I didn't understand, God was doing something, the Lord of the universe was moving. My whole body shook, I felt the fear of the Lord as well as abounding joy.
                Having recently finished the book It, by Craig Groeschel, I have been hoping to see the small flame we have as a group start to burn uncontrollably. Whatever effort we (as leaders) put into this group is useless without the move of God. I challenge anyone who does not believe God still moves; show me what use anything we do is without Him! I dare not put the great I Am in a box, or believe I can change the world in my human frailness. What I want to see is more of Him, more direction, more spirit. I so desire for people to open up their ministries, their families, and their lives to the movement of the Holy Spirit! Where are you stagnant? Where are you needy? If you need vision and direction, go to the one who provides these free of charge! I'm not gonna lie, I am Pentecostal, and I believe that God is the same yesterday, today and forever. God has something big planned for this group of amazing youth. I am blessed and proud to be a part of it. Just wait, the best is yet to come.
(Edit 8/7/2013, For those wondering, God has moved in the group this summer as promised, of course, see the post from this day as explanation)

Thursday, April 4, 2013


Aloneness in interesting, because it means so many different things; it can be a physical reality or a perception of reality. It can relate to real objects or ones relation to those objects. In Existential therapy, aloneness can even be a good thing, it is thought that one must be alone, knowing themselves very well, before they can be good for another person. Aloneness can be frustrating though, because the feeling of aloneness can be present even when the reality isn’t. You can be alone I a crowded room. Aloneness, in this sense, is more like the opposite of closeness in a personal relationship, the lack of someone to lean on and confide in.
          For years (since freshman year of high-school at least) I have been a part of a tight-knit group of friends, and always having someone to be with. We had adventures, we laughed together and cried together, we lived; REALLY lived, and then real life started. So, for the first time in many years, I am alone. The few of those I love that are still close in proximity are distant in reality because of business. While this feeling has prevailed for several months now I have felt it acutely this week since my childhood best friend is in town for a few days. It’s so nice to have her, but I know in only short days the knife cut of distance comes in between us again. Then the loneliness will feel deeper and thicker, it always does. I’ll have to get used to it again.
          Don’t get me wrong, I am not depressed, I have plenty of people on the outskirts of my life, but God is not bringing anyone into my core circle right now (excepting one, me and God are still arguing about that, apparently I am not very trusting of other people, a post for another time.) It’s hard because I organize my thoughts best when I am taking to someone else, and I love having someone to have adventures with. I am not well suited for aloneness. This place that was home feels less like home now without the my friends. I content myself with church volunteering and work but there is still something missing. I guess I just desire for one person to be close to, someone I can trust, someone to care about who cares about me. But having a group again would be nice too. Maybe I won’t find it here. Maybe the time is coming soon to move on, I feel like it is. I know I am never alone with Christ though, and I cling to that, even when I have no one else near.