Sunday, June 26, 2011

Religion vs. Christianity

I feel like I may make some people angry with this post, so we'll see how it goes..

I often tell people that I hate religion and almost every time, people retort "Ha, yeah right Ashley. You're probably the most religious person I know". I try not to let that get to me, because I know they see religion differently than I do. But really, I hate that response.

To be part of a religion means that you believe or follow a particular system of faith. A system is "a set of procedures according to which something is done". It's more about the procedures. Sort of like a check list of sorts.

  • Am I going to church?
  • Am I involved in the church?
  • Am I a "good person"?
  • Do I help people?
  • Do I know church songs?
  • Do I dress appropriately?
  • Do I believe in a god?
It's like if we answer "yes" to all of those things, then we're good to go. I think that this is the start to lazy Christianity. I'm not saying that none of those things are good. In fact, they are all good and I would hope that Christ followers can answer "yes" to most, if not all, of those. But we don't end there. There is more. 

The God that I believe in isn't a god made from humans, dependent on us, needing anything from us. In every other religion, it seems to be about humans trying to connect with God. Humans making sacrifices, humans being "good", humans trying to make a god love them. In Christianity, it's the other way around. It's about God trying to connect with humans. It's about God making the ultimate sacrifice. It's about God sending His son to die for them so that they may be saved. It's about a God who loves people and trying to bring them back. 

To go beyond that, many people get caught into a trap. Here are some common mistakes about religion, specifically Christianity:
  1. It's inherited
    1. John 3:3-6
    2. Just because you grew up in the church or your parents are Christians doesn't mean you are
    3. It's not about who you are or where you're from.
  2. It's just a belief
    1. Easy to say you believe in something because that doesn't require much change or action
    2. Actions need to match words, or words don't mean much. 
    3. James 2:14-16
    4. 2 Corinthians 5:17
  3. It's just an action
    1. You're not a Christian just because you don't drink, smoke, swear, etc. 
    2. It's not just about doing
      1. It's about believing and doing
    3. John 3:16--belief of Jesus must be there
  4. It's about perfection
    1. There seems to be a myth that once you're a Christian, you have to be perfect. 
    2. If we could be perfect, there would be not reason for Jesus. 
    3. Romans 5:8
In essence, Christianity isn't about us. It's not about what we can do or what we have done or where we came from or anything like that. It's all about Jesus. It's about Him dying for us and loving us. 

"We are not religious people who have it all together, rather we are people who are desperately loved by Jesus and were radically transformed by Him."

You see the greatest lie every told is that the Christian life is boring. It’s meant only for old people who want to try to get into Heaven or for the whack job who doesn’t have the mental fortitude to muddle through their difficulties. If that’s what Christianity is I wonder what Bible I’ve been reading…I must have some how got the unrated version where men and women live passionately, fight zealously, and die without regrets (recognizing they will never die). Or maybe we’ve just been blinded for so long we’d rather settle for lies than grasp the Truth. (Found on:

Being Holy Discontent

When I was in high school, I was challenged to think of something that makes me "holy discontent" and that has remained a challenge that I try to answer and do something about it.

To be holy discontent is essentially looking at the question of what wrecks you? What makes you angry? See, it's okay to be angry. It's okay to be wrecked, to see something and say, that's not okay. What isn't okay, is to not doing anything about it.

Things that may make you angry:

  • AIDS
  • Immoral business practices
  • Dysfunctional churches
  • Disease
  • Sex trafficking
  • Purity
  • Poverty
  • Swearing
  • Divorce rates
  • Drug trafficking
  • Racial oppression 
  • Child abuse
  • The list goes on and on and on. 
There are so many things that make us angry. From that list above, all of those things make me angry. And hopefully they all make you angry. But which one is your real holy discontent? That one thing that you know you have to act on. 

For me, my holy discontent are:

Lazy Christians. Lazy Christians make me crazy. Lazy Christians is what I am so discontent with. I get so unbelievably angry when I see Christians turning the other cheek. I can't stand it. People who say "I am a Christian" and their actions don't line up with that, drives me absolutely insane. If you ever want to see me over the top angry, over the top upset, over the top hurt, just ready to blow...tell me about inconsistent people. Tell me about people who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and dishonor Him with their lifestyle. 

That's my holy discontent. It sends me over the edge and I'm through with it.

The label "Christian" appears to have become so obsolete. You may argue and say that the opposite is true, that more and more people are using it. I agree with you which is why I think it's become obsolete. I say, let people have that term. You want to call yourself a Christian, fine. I'll take on and use the term Christ follower. The label Christian is becoming obsolete to people who genuinely love Christ. And besides, Christ follower better explains Christianity anyway.

We aren't people who blindly follow Jesus or who just go to church because we're supposed to. Rather, we are people who genuinely are head over heels in love with Christ and when we accepted His gift of grace, love, and mercy, we became His followers.

So if you're a Christ Follower, don't be lazy. Be consistent. If you don't think it's okay to swear at church, it's probably not okay to swear anywhere. Whether you're at a family dinner, hanging out with your friends, or at church camp you should be consistent. If you don't think it's okay to dress in a certain way at church, it's probably not okay to dress like that anywhere (I'm thinking more of the "4 b's"--no boobs, butts, bras, or bellies for the girls).

Lazy, inconsistent Christ Followers pushes me over the edge.
What puts you over the edge?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Picture Challenge

I keep seeing this picture challenge. I am just going to do it here. And cheat and do it within a day or so. (Also, this post apparently started in March, hence the "March")
Day 1.

Fact 1. I love lists.
Fact 2. I'm not good at thinking on the spot.
Fact 3. I like rhymes and cliches.
Fact 4. When I'm at school, I get excited when I am in bed by 2am.
Fact 5. I am not a morning person.
Fact 6. I played soccer for twelve years.
Fact 7. I like driving with my music playing loudly.
Fact 8. I love Mountain Dew.
Fact 9. I have blonde hair.
Fact 10. I'm not a fan of both regards.
Fact 11. If I'm asked a question I don't want to answer, I won't.
Fact 12. I'm not very clever, so thinking of 15 facts is rather difficult.
Fact 13. I love Apple products.
Fact 14. I rarely drink water.
Fact 15. I love puns.

Day 2. 
Me and Veronica. 
We've been pals since I was in fourth grade and she was in third. I had zero digital pictures of us until last week. I don't really know how to edit, and besides, cutting Austin out would just be mean! (Although he can count for something too, he's been in my life for eight years.)
Veronica though. I've been closest to her the longest. I love her a looooot and have close to 493902 memories with her.

Day 3. 
Cast of favorite show: Gilmore Girls. 
I have all 7 seasons on DVD. I'm watching them once again this summer. Good stuff.

Day 4.
Favorite night: Uhhh
There isn't one specific night that just stands out to me that was ultra spectacular. I tried to think of something creative or mildly clever to put instead, but nothing came to mind. I've been searching for pictures that at least resembled night but that didn't do much good either. So I'm afraid I'm going to have to leave this blank.

Day 5. 
Favorite memory: Colorado
If I remember correctly, this was our second year with Vail in CO for CIY. I memory sucks. Which brings to my next point. I don't really have a favorite memory because I can't hardly remember anything. I don't really know why I chose this picture either, but I figured I already skipped Day 4, I can't skip another day. I suppose I can explain the picture. Essentially, we ate all of that pizza and drank all that soda..and then rolled down a grassy hill...and then went river rafting in the CO river. I don't remember much from this whole thing, which defeats the purpose of the whole favorite memory thing, but oh well...
Day 6. 
Trade places with: Cindy
I met Cindy when I was in South Africa. She's 13 and in 4th grade. She lives in a house that is less than the size of my room and my brother's room combined with 4 other people. She loves. She gives. She's compassionate. She longs to see more, do more. I want to trade places with her so she could do that. And then I could play more red light/green light and Simon says with her family and neighbors=)

Day 7.
Most treasured item: Mac
I love my Mac. It holds just about everything. I have bookmarks on it with my websites. I have journals. I have pictures. I have papers. I have my school. I have my passwords. You can find just about everything about me if you spent time with my Mac and browsed around on it. Plus, it's a Mac.

Day 8.
Picture that makes me laugh: Tell me about your experiences 
Hahahahahah. Oh my geeze. I don't remember much from this night, except that a few of us were up reallyyyy late. I found a marker (always dangerous) and wrote bits and pieces of our conversations on the whiteboard available. This was one of the results.

Day 9.
Gotten me through the most: Ah.
This was a really tough one. Aside from the fact that I love this picture, I want to use it as symbolism. (And also the person who took it has probably gotten me through the most, so it works.) I am the strongest when I have friends on either side of me (in this case in front and behind me) and I can follow, yet also lead. When a friend gives me the space to "lead the way" and "do what I need to do" and is willing to follow me and guide me, that's when I feel like I can really get through the rough things.

Day 10. 
Messed up things with: Sam and Kahle
I took that to mean who I had fun with and got in trouble with. Not like super ridiculous things. Just stupid, fun things. I got in trouble during class in high school with both of these fools in EVERY SINGLE CLASS I HAD WITH THEM. Holy moly. Kahle and I got multiple glaring looks. Sam and I had to stay after class and were "talked to".  In tenth grade, Kahle tried to teach me how to say "no" to a boy because I didn't want to go on a date with him. Senior year, Sam and I started laughing and the teacher came up to us and told us our assignment wasn't that interesting so there was no way we could be laughing if we were doing our work.

Day 11. 
Something I hate: Sex trafficking industry. 
I hate it. I hate that those who join in voluntarily believe that it's "the only option" or that that is "all they're worth". I hate that many are forced to join. I hate that people are lied to and manipulated. I hate that people are abused and abusive. I hate that people don't care about it. I hate that people make jokes about it. I hate that people throw around the words "pimp" and "slut" and "whore". I hate that it thrives. I hate that people are enslaved and people are enslaving.

Day 12. 
Something I love: My God
If I were to ever get a tattoo, it would be this. Hebrew for Yahweh (YHWH), Greek for Alpha and Omega, P and X are the first two letters of Christ in the Greek language, and the infinite symbol. Succinctly describes God.

Day 13.
Favorite Music: Hip hop
Okay, I know it asked for band/artist, but if I like it, it's my favorite. I opened my iTunes to see if I could answer this question...I couldn't. So I tailored it to something I can answer--my favorite type of music.

Day 14. 
Don't want out of my life: You?
Okay, I suck at this picture thing. I should have just picked a few days and done those. Like Kelly Clarkson sings, my life probably would suck without you (though I haven't any idea who "you" are). I don't really want people out of my life. Once I have them, I'm good with having them in my life for-ev-er (Sandlot style). But I'll figure it out if I don't have someone in my life anymore. For instance, I didn't want Jenny out of my life. She was my best pal (she competed with Veronica) since fourth grade and passed away when I was a sophomore in college. I miss her, but I deal. (Yeah, yeah, yeah, people are different than dogs. But I can't pick one person and I need a picture!)

Day 15. 
Before I die: Make a difference
I want to impact individuals and the world. I want to make a difference and change the world.

Day 16. 
Inspires me: Jilly
I'm trying to cover all my bases here throughout this picture challenge thing. Jill was my supervisor for two years. I got to see her graduate with her Master's degree just a few weeks ago. Jill pushed me and allowed me to grow. She called me out on things and she always stood by my side. She knew when I was beaten down and needed her to step in and she knew when I thought I was beaten down, but really I was strong enough to carry on and just didn't know it.

Day 17.
Recent impact: Thoughts
No explanation.

Day 18.
Biggest Insecurity: No. 

Day 19.
Little Ashley: 9 years old?

Day 20.
Travel: NYC
This seems like a place I'd love. Lights, sounds, city.

Day 21. 
Forget: How much I hate black and brown together when I see people I love wearing them together. 
I fear putting up a picture because black and brown together seriously irks me.
Day 22.
Better at: Talking
I thought about being "funny" and say something like "frowning" or "jumping on a pogo stick" or "drinking water". Read into this what you want.

Day 23.
Favorite book: Nicholas Sparks
Anything and everything by him. I have all of these books in the picture (actually my good, trickster of a friend does at the moment...) and then some.

Day 24.
Want to change: Marriage statistics
I want to change the world, yes. But I already kind of did that for a previous day (for the sake of this blog, not like in real life...I'm willing to work on changing the world on multiple days..not just one day..) In one way that can happen though is through marital stats. I wrote a whole paper about this and what i think we can do to start to change this. If you want to know more, just ask!

Day 25.
My day: Throwing paper clips
I got bored at work so I started throwing paper clips at the person who sits in the next cubicle. Yes, I'm very professional. And then when she left, I put a huge pile of paper clips on her desk. I'm excited for her to see it Monday!

Day 26.
Means a lot to me: Letters
I love notes and letters. I love mail. I love finding something under my door. I love words and written things.

Day 27.
Me and a family member: My broha

Day 28.
Something I'm afraid of: Eetf
Unscramble that. I don't want to write it. Hint: they go in shoes.

Day 29.
Makes me smile: Hugs
Okay, sometimes they make me cry, but they almost always make me feel better.

Day 30.
Someone I miss: Lisa!
Lisa, I miss Lisa! I met her Spring Break of 2010 and she went back to Germany in May. But for those 9 weeks or so, we got to know each other and over a year later, we still talk. I miss Lisa lots and lots.