Monday, August 31, 2009

Are you not good enough for God?

During my first semester at Biola, I took Pierce's Old Testament survey class. There were over a hundred of us jammed into an auditorium twice a week, for 16 weeks, as we tried to grasp the entirety of 39 books of the Bible. About 8 weeks went by, and I was onto my second test. The night before the exam I opened up my bible and I attempted to read about 1/3 of the Old Testament, because of course, I was a tad behind. I panicked. My class was at 8am, and it was 8pm. I called a friend. I think all I said to this friend was, "No time to talk, I am in big trouble, and you to need to explain me the entire overview of the books of Samuel, Kings, etc." As I recall, my wonderful and brilliant friend didn't ask any questions, and began to teach me. 

I am pretty sure my friend just talked for an hour as I listened and took notes. It was pretty remarkable. As we ended the story of David, I stopped to ask some questions. I was so confused about how God could possibly call David "a man after God's heart", after everything that he had done wrong in his life. I seriously couldn't drop it. I just kept asking and asking, how could God forgive him? My friend was kind of baffled by this question, and just kept reinforcing the "grace" and "forgiveness" factor, but I still had a hard time grasping it. 

Today, 3 years later, I have realized that I have been struggling to accept this concept for a really long time. 

Through the current life transition I am experiencing, I am trying to take some time to process what has happened to me thus far, within my Christian life. And I am coming to find out that I have been telling myself lies about certain things. Some things I was told, some things I was led to believe, and some things I brought on myself. 

In talking with my spiritual director today, some of these "things" were brought to the surface. I was explaining how I felt like a failure for not reading my bible everyday. And how because I wasn't serving wholeheartedly in ministry anymore, God didn't want to hear me anymore. And because sometimes I wake up on Sunday mornings and don't want to meet with God, He doesn't want to meet with me. 

I kept trying to explain, I desire for a relationship with God... I miss having conversations with Him, and I miss reading His Word, but how since I didn't have the energy to do the things I thought I was "obligated to do", He wasn't around anymore. I explained that I felt as if I wasn't "good enough" for God right now. 

But then she told me this:

God wants to meet with you right where you are. 

God is celebrating over the fact that you desire to be close with Him. 

God is not angry at you for you not reading your Bible every day. 

When you desire God, He gives you that desire. 

When you don't desire God, He gives you that too. 

And, you will always be good enough for God, because He is the one who is good for you. 

She also told me that God prepares us for times like these in ways that we don't realize. Like when we memorize our favorite verse, or worship song, so in our dry times, we don't need the actual music on, or the physical bible in our hands, but that the Spirit inside us will send a reminder. 

It's astonishing to me that God wants to be here with me as my tearful eyes look at this computer screen, and reflect on the fact that for the past 6 months, I couldn't overcome the feeling that I was just not being good enough for God, and that He didn't want anything to do with me. 

Maybe it is true that one of the biggest lies in the Christian world, is that in order to grow closer to the Lord, and be a good Christian, is to follow the "cardinal" rules of the faith (ie. read your bible, pray, go to church every week, volunteer in a ministry etc.). Because honestly, this is what I was led to believe, and in a way, I grew further away from God because of it. I felt like there was this wall between Him and I that couldn't possibly be broken down until I was submitting myself to all the "rules". And I think if we are honest with ourselves, we will be able to point out at least 5 people who might be thinking the same things. 

I have made my life about works, instead of just faith in Him, and 
I need to receive His grace that He has given me. 

I understand now, more than ever, that God was always with David, and He loved Him. Now I understand why that is my friend's favorite Bible story. 


Friday, August 28, 2009

This is why I will never homeschool my children

VERY funny video of this years spelling champ. I honestly haven't laughed so much at something in a long time. 

 And if you are wondering, I totally watch all 2.5 hours of the national spelling year every year. 

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Blythe Poem.

My friend Blythe wrote a cool poem and posted it on her blog. My favorite part was the first part, and the bold is exactly where I am at right now:

"Sometimes
words are enough.

And when the words don’t come,
the History
the Actions that led to this

Wordlessness

Do the talking.

There are things you can’t build with words;
can’t explain.

But they may not always
need to be said..."

Read the rest on her blog. And you should just check out her blog anyway, because it's definitely in my top 3. :)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Political Views Quiz

Yep, this is about right...

My Political Views
I am a center-left social moderate
Left: 2.35, Authoritarian: 0.41

Political Spectrum Quiz

What are yours???

Monday, August 24, 2009

District 9: Great Sci-Fi Movie With a Message


Last night I went to see "District 9" with my dad, sister, and sister's boyfriend. I had heard great reviews, but more importantly, I heard it had a little "social justice" theme, so I had to see it. It was definitely bizarre, and when my mom asked how it was after it was all over, I wasn't sure how to answer that. I described it in one word - "experience". It was truly one of those "experiences" that no one else can really know about until you watch the movie too. So, that's my recommendation - go see the movie. But before you do, I am going to give you the two main "social justice-y" things to keep in mind as you're watching it. 

Number One: The Apartheid
"District 9" takes place in Johannesburg, South Africa, and the basis for the story is that 20 years ago, an alien spaceship began to hover over the city, though never invading. Eventually, humans decided to invade the alien spaceship, and they found millions of malnourished aliens. They bring all of the aliens down and place them in a (displacement) camp, where all the locals hated their presence. They were given nicknames that made fun of the way they looked, and they were known as the lowest of the lowest who lived in the slums. 

Now, I want to say that this point isn't so clearly made that you would think this sounds like a cheesy way to come across with a moral point, I am just trying to make things in your memory stick as you watch the movie. 

This obviously is trying to spark our memory of the Apartheid in South Africa. The Apartheid was legal racial separation that began in 1948, and ended in 1994. There were residential areas that were sanctioned off for "whites", "blacks", "indians", and "other colored" people's. The aliens are sanctioned in the same way. The movie makes this uncomfortable from the beginning, but, it's aliens we are talking about here, so it doesn't become personal. That is until you begin to realize that there is more than just a different exterior...

Number Two: American Secrets
This one was hard for me to catch, but I kept thinking about the fact that the country of South Africa had hired a private "military" group to take care of the problem with these aliens. I couldn't understand why their own military would not just handle it. Well, the private military group didn't just make for a better movie, but it also hit hard at America. I finally realized that the writer was probably taking a direct shot at America, as we also hired a private military group to do some "work" in Iraq. 

This private group that was hired are formerly known as the "Black Water Mercenaries", and are now known as the "Xe". These people have been known for killing Iraqis without cause, and therefore are hated by the Iraqi people. Even worse, they are also known for having a "Christian Crusader" personality, and will do anything to rid the world of Muslim's. Oh, and they are also major donors to the Republican party... awesome. It's horrible, just horrible, and I think "District 9" does a great job with their jabs, if indeed, they are making an analogy of this. 

Well, my rant is done. If none of things matter to you, do not fear, this movie is probably one of the best sci-fi movies I have ever scene (when it comes to special effects). The fact that the movie is recorded in a documentary style, as these humans have interactions with awesome looking alien creatures, is just unbelievable. I definitely recommend. 

Friday, August 21, 2009

Ah, yes, the Healthcare Debate...

I've been trying to avoid this topic for quite sometime now, because I don't want a lot of yelling on my blog comments (though it does seem like no one reads my blog anymore, so whatever). So, I am going to post a video from Jon Stewart, as he talks to a lady who is against the infamous bill, but is "for" providing healthcare to all Americans (I know, I don't get it either. Just wait until you watch her talk...). And I am also just going to say the following:

It a.ma.zes. me at how all these evil democrats (muahahahaha), want to HELP people. These richies - the prez., senators, congressman - they all make easily over $100,000 a year. This means, they are getting taxed higher. Jon Stewart says (in THIS video), that he is HAPPY to be taxed more to help pay for other people's healthcare. 

Now, I know you might have a lot of ill feelings that you want to share with me right now, but if you are a Christian, I just want you to stop and think about this idea... 

Think about the fact that the "religious right" are the one's who are basically shouting, "Heck no, we don't want to help." And the evil democrats are the one's saying, ya, this is what America is about... we need to help those in need. 

Again, put all the thoughts running in your head aside... and just think about this situation...

This astounds me. And, this is also why when I became a Christians, I thought I couldn't be a Republican anymore. It just all makes more sense, no?

I'm disabling comments until my next post about Healthcare, 
because, frankly, I don't want to read your ranting and raving...
I just want you to think about this...

Until next time...



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Thursday, August 20, 2009

A little more with Mike Erre...

Part II of Mike and I's interview is up RIGHT NOW... click here to check it out. Also, during the interview, we talked about women in ministry for a bit (one of my favorite topics), but I didn't publish that whole conversation on CIC, because it didn't really have anything to do with the book. So I will publish the rest here on my blog, for you readers who are interested. Mike has some great things to say!

CA: Are there any other books in the workings?

ME: I'm working on a book about the Bible right now, and how understanding the Bible as one unified story, and unless you see it as that you misunderstand the individual parts. I'm excited about that.

CA: I feel like everything you write about is stuff that I'm really passionate about knowing!

ME: Then I will keep consulting with you on book ideas!

CA: Can the next one be about women in ministry?

ME: YES! And how we need more of them, which is such a cool issue. The early church would have never asked that question. Paul of course in 1 Corinthians and in 1 Timothy really cautions against violating cultural norms because his teaching which was from Jesus that there is no male or female or Jew or Greek was revolutionary. Nobody in the 1st century was saying that.

But certain women were so zealous in their new freedom, they would actually go way overboard. So you have Paul appealing to head coverings, not teaching as elders, and keeping silent, you know. Lots of debates about what all that stuff means, but at the very least we know he's correcting abuses. That's all he's doing. He's not declaring norms. The norm is, there is no male and female. Those distinctions are rendered irrelevant in the kingdom of God.

CA: [Rock Harbor has] a little different take . . . how you put women as “directors,” would you call them "directors" or "pastors"?

ME: We call them pastors, we call them directors … some of our best managers, directors, and pastors are women. Of course! God gave spiritual gifts regardless of gender. We do operate under the conviction that headship is a biblical concept and because there are parallels drawn between the church and the home, we understand headship to be very sacrificial, to be one of the ways that God demonstrates love to people, and an order. So we have elders, that are guys, but they serve in spiritual oneness with their wives. We have one elder meeting where the guys meet, and we have one where the couples meet. We distinguish between gifts and offices, and we try to push the boundaries on where we think the scripture gives us real permission for a woman to exercise her gifts as many ways as possible. We believe women can teach, absolutely, under the headship of the elder board; they should serve in any capacity they're gifted in, absolutely.

So I'm a fan. Just look at what Jesus did. He broke every single stereotype; just ridiculous. Paul gets such a bad rap, but he was a revolutionary too.

CA: So that's your next book! Thank you so much.

ME: Great to meet you, Carrie, I'm honored. Thank you for your encouragement!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My interview with Mike Erre

Mike Erre is a pastor at Rock Harbor, a non-denominational church in Costa Mesa, California. Thousands flock to "experience" one of Rock Harbor's services every weekend (especially college students), and this leaves other church's to wonder, "why?".

I believe it's because at Rock Harbor, they are r.e.a.l. real. The pastors aren't afraid to share their weaknesses, and the service in itself, always makes you want to lay everything down at Christ's feet.

But even though Rock Harbor's services are booming on Saturday nights and Sunday mornings, Erre is convinced that there is more to this Christianity thing than a service once a week. Erre's book really opened up my eyes to a lot of things, especially for the Southern California person.

Erre graciously said he would let me interview him so I could spread the word more about his book, and today is the day it is finally published. You can read it at "Christians in Context". Part one is up today, and part two will be up tomorrow.



****Special thanks to Carissa for helping me with transcribing and editing this interview. Two sets of ears and eyes are always better than one. And thanks to the wonderful bloggers at Christians in Context for letting me post this interview, especially to Norm and Andrew who helped me figure out how we were going to publish this piece.***

Monday, August 17, 2009

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I'm 26, and I have a couple gray hairs. Greeeeeat.

I'm not gunna lie, year 25 for me was not very fun. It was one of those tough years, and I am scared that as you get older, the more often a tough year will come. 

Year 26 has to be better than 25. 

And so, I shall make a list of things I would like to accomplish in the next 365 days...

#1 - Grow closer to the Lord (a given...)
#2 - Travel some of Europe
#3 - Hang with the fam more
#4 - Get involved in a really good home group 
#5 - Do something that I am really scared of (and ya, I already know what this is...)
#6 - Learn how to cook better
#7 - Be more encouraging
#8 - Explore areas of California I have never seen before
#9 - read.read.read.more.
#10 - Disciple more, and BE discipled, more
#11 - Not to miss, the one thing, that was missing, from my 26th birthday
#12 - Read 75% of the books that are already on my bookshelf, that have never been read
#13 - STILL be driving my car!
#14 - Visit Erin in Colorado
#15 - be.more.real
#16 - blog more
#17 - Watch all 10 seasons of "Friends"
#18 - Take my mom to NYC (and see Jon Stewart live)
#19 - Use my Disneyland pass A LOT
#20 - Get rid of more of my things I don't need
#21 - Buy a camera (mine broke)
#22 - Pray more
#23 - Listen more
#24 - Finish the bible study I am writing
#25 - Spend more time with my friends 
#26 - FIGURE OUT MY LIFE! ;)



Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Remembering Leah Sanchez


Last night I went to a memorial service for the beautiful, Leah Sanchez, sister of my pastor, Frank Sanchez (and sister-in-law to Lela, and Auntie "Woods" to the Sanchez little ones). Leah was only 25 years old when she passed on July 24th, 2009, and her (earthly) death was very unexpected. 

When I received word that Leah was sick, I didn't think her condition would become so serious. And even when her condition became critical, I never, ever, thought that the Lord would take her. I work in the critical care unit 3 times a week, and I watch numerous people recover, so needless to say, I was very shocked to hear that she had passed, in such a short amount of time. If you are wondering about Leah's cause of death, I don't want to say here on my own blog, because everything I know comes from Frank's blog, so I will just lead you there by clicking here. 

I mourned with the Sanchez family (from a distance) in my own home, car, and workplace, as I knew what pain they must have been feeling during that time. Well, I didn't really "know" that pain, but I knew it must have been unbearable. I watched on facebook, and on Frank and Lela's blog, as the support came flooding in, and was so encouraged by the strength the Sanchez family had showed. 

Monday night was the memorial service for Leah, and it was truly a wonderful experience. At the beginning of the night, the (very talented) Sanchez family (like, a lot of Sanchez's were on that stage...), arose to lead us all in a song. Even Leah's dad played the bass. They sang, "When the Tears Fall", by Tim Hughes, and gosh were my tears were a falling. The beautiful sound of the harmonies of voices and instruments flooded the huge auditorium, as we took time to say, "Yes Lord, we mourn, but we don't mourn like those with no hope... and so, we still praise You." 

They took time for special people in Leah's life to remember her with words and memories. Stories from friends and family about how Leah was expected to be the fourth boy in the family, and when she came out a girl, the three older brothers didn't know want to do! Memories were shared about her love for children, and her kind and patient heart. Even little seven-year-old Renee Sanchez got up to talk about her Auntie "Woods", remembering that when she came over to babysit once a month, Renee was able to wake her up early in the morning, just to spend more time with her. It was really amazing to hear more about Leah. 

Click on this picture for an up close look at the Sanchez fam worshipping God... so amazing. 

Finally, Frank preached it up, and ended up giving an invitation to accept Christ. Earlier in the day, at the burial site, there were many people who gave their lives to the Lord, and four more followed suit on the night of the memorial. The Sanchez family closed with another song, and then spontaneously began singing "Mighty to Save". It was such a special moment as the crowd arose, and people were praising God all over the place. Frank blogs that this was his favorite moment of the night, and I had a feeling it would be, so I was happy that I snapped a picture! I had a feeling they might want to see it, but if not, I wanted it to remember that I would want my funeral to be like Leah's. 

When I left Redlands, and headed home, I began to play my Hillsong album in my car, and the tears started flowing again. Flowing because I was, and still am, very sad that Leah had to be taken at such a young age, and so suddenly. But they were also a flowing because I was able to put my life in a little more perspective. 

On Thursday I am turning 26. 

Twenty.Six. 

Nooooooo! I am getting old. Like really really old. It really scares me sometimes. But I began to think, ok, really, I am not old. I am not old, but God could choose to take me home at ANY time. 

am.i.ready?

Am I ready to be taken by the Lord? What will people say about ME, if I were die suddenly... out of nowhere. No time to be that person who fights courageously through cancer, or other dieases... just.suddenly.gone. What.will.people.say...?

Leah's death has brought many to the Lord for the first time, but it has also brought many of us believers closer to the Lord. As I am sure the Sanchez family is hanging on tightly, little do they know the impact, of remembering Leah, would have on many people (I'm sure), but definitely myself. 

Why would God choose to keep ME around, but take a beautiful person like Leah? This is just craziness to my mind, and I don't know the answer to this question. But, what I do know is that whenever my time comes, I hope that people will be able to get up on the stage, and remember me in ways that Leah was remembered - loving, generous, serving, sacrificial, joyful... and most important, a woman who was solely after God's heart. 


////Maybe you're reading this and you really are not ready for death, because you don't know Jesus Christ as your personal saviour. Many people think that God is just a "crutch" for people to lean on because they are scared of death. Well if there are people like that, then trust me, they don't lean on long after a death. The Sanchez family will mourn. They will be very sad, and at times, they probably will be a little upset with God. I was even kind of upset with God about this one. But when you truly know God, then you will truly have a peace, from God, to get you through those times. Being a Christian isn't all daisies and roses, and it definitely doesn't make your life any "easier". Becoming a Christian is all about finding that relationship with your creator that you were destined to have. It's about knowing God, and having the gift of living in His care forever and ever. 

Leah is in heaven now with God; we are confident of that. Have you ever thought about where you would go today, if you were to die? You can ask God right NOW to come into your life. You don't have to be in a church to ask this from God. If you would like to ask God to come into your life, please contact me at carriemarieallen@yahoo.com./////////