Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Spirit 2011 Time for a Change


This year I have struggled getting into the worldly “Christmas Season.”  Everyone knows what I mean, parties, shopping, blowing money on meaningless things that people don’t need and for some really appreciate.  I could go on, but I have been struggling between the “Worldly Christmas Season” and the “Godly Christmas Season.”  I have been overwhelmed at the amount of selfishness and greedy attitudes that are being slung around and called “Christmas Spirit.”  I thought “I must not have Christmas Spirit because I see it differently.”  I always thought ‘tis the season to be jolly and thankful.  ‘Tis the season to be with friends and family and share love and give thanks for our saviors birth.  I thought, “I don’t want to be around family if it cost me money to put a smile on their face.”  It should not cost me anything to be joyful throughout the “Christmas Season.”  Thoughts of helping others and sharing the Gospel and God’s love (as He did for us) and being with family and loved ones not to share gifts, but to share hugs and laughter.  This is what I have been searching for and would not settle for falling into the worldly “Christmas Season.”  I have to admit, I did gift shop.  I even got gifts that I felt took away from the true meaning of Christmas and fed into spoiled behaviors and greedy expectations.

I continued to pray for God to put something and someone meaningful in my life that I could share His love for the holidays and even above and beyond the holidays.  I prayed that God would bring someone into my life that I could be an exception to and an example to.  Someone I could love on that has not been loved on and share Christmas with someone who otherwise would not be sharing Christmas.  I prayed for God to stir in the hearts of my family and that they might step out of the “Worldly Christmas Season”, greed and selfishness.  I searched Angel Trees, I spoke with people in my small group to see if they knew anyone who needed some help and some extra loving, and I even emailed my Pastor to see if he knew anyone I could reach out to.  Then right on time as usual, God showed me someone or put someone in my path that I could be that exception to and share the “Godly Christmas Season” with and rock their world with so much love, laughter, and gratitude and in return show my family what this time of year is really about.  Humble them. 

Last week I was at my daughter’s head start Christmas party.  I was there to do the pictures with Santa for all the kids in the class.  One of the parents contacted me on ordering her daughters pictures with Santa.  I quickly recognized the name from a brief season of my past.  She was filled with joy to finally reconnect with me.  She was not favored in her childhood among other kids, and I helped her out in school many years ago.  Now grown, with a family the girl was about to help me out in a huge way without her knowledge in doing so.  She explained to me she did not have much money, but really would like the pictures I took even if she could buy just one.  I told her I would come to her house and we would work out something.  I packed my computer, kids, and camera into the car and proceeded to drive to her house.  Upon our arrival I knew that was in front of me was a blessing from God to me and my family.  We stepped out the car, and stood there broken hearted by what stood ahead.  Their home was run down from years of wear-and-tear.  Upon their walls were photos of me with her in middle school.  There were holes in the floors and broken doors and windows.  They slept in the living room because of these things.  She poured into me about how lucky she was to have me as her friend growing up and to see me again.  She confined in me the fact that her oldest daughter was in foster care and her youngest had a whole in her heart.  Jobs were hard to keep for them due to their disabilities, but they try and make do.  Suddenly my heart sank.  She stated that Santa was not able to come this year, but they were going to fix a dinner and share stories together.  I wanted to rush out and cry.  My daughter overheard our conversation and was feeling the same as I was.  While in the car leaving my oldest daughter said, “Mom, we have to help them.”  The thought of a four-year old without a present broke her heart and mine.  I won’t lie it sort of made me that much madder at the greed and selfishness that is out there, but I stayed focused on the blessing and answered prayer God had put into my path.  Once we returned home I shared the news with my fiancĂ©.  I did not think he was really listening to me as he left for work that night.  After arriving at work he sent me a surprising text.  He stated he had won a $50 gift card to Wal-Mart.  Following that message was his nightly call.  He stated he wanted to help them.  He wanted me to take the card and buy some gifts and started rattling off plans to fix their home and so much more.  God was really stirring in his heart now, and I must say I was very proud and happy.  My mom agreed to help some and the response and love was abounding. 

As of right now, this amazing family will have a Christmas and there will be much more to follow for this family.  I am so excited to watch God work in us all through this humbling experience.  As much as it seems we are helping them, in all honesty, they are helping us.  I am truly blessed and excited for me and my family to get a fresh look at what God’s love can do and the real “reason for the season.” 

Friday, November 18, 2011

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge."

Here is a post I done this week in Philosophy.  Just wanted to share the thought.

The Gettier Problem
Belief, Truth, & Knowledge

The Gettier Problem, from what I gather, is to state what, in addition to or instead of justified true belief, is needed to have knowledge.  Basically is JTB enough or do we need something else? 

According to our presentation on knowledge, there are three basic types of knowledge:

            Knowledge as Acquaintance-“I know Bill.”

            Knowledge of Competency-“I know French.”

            Knowledge as truth claims-“I know Kennedy was president of the U.S. in 1962.”

The knowledge as truth claims is basically what we are looking at as we venture through epistemology.  However, the question presented this week is basically is JTB enough to define knowledge or is something else needed?

For my thoughts here, I turned to the Bible, which I firmly believe meets all the qualifications for knowledge.  The Bible is truth, I believe it is true, I have reason to believe it is true, and it is in fact true.  Proverbs 1:7 tells me what knowledge is.  It states, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instructions.”  This definition is provided through God’s Word.  Then we see in Proverbs 12:1 “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge.”  Then continued on in Proverbs 15:4 “The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge,” and then in Proverbs 18:15 it says, “An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.”  I could continue on but here is what I “believe” about “knowledge.” 

Knowledge is not just justified belief.  Knowledge is belief, truth, discipline, “fear of the Lord,” understanding, and an intelligent heart who seeks the Lord and truth.  To me to limit knowledge to JTB is only saying, “I can see it, it has been proven, analyzed, and accepted by the mass majority” is limiting out what the Bible says knowledge is.  Since God gave us the truth and He gave us knowledge then to me there is no knowledge without Him and truth.  I hope that makes sense here.  I could have taken this without the concept of God, but I don’t think knowledge exist in that form so that is why I have chosen to pursue this post with the truth, the Word of God!   

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A New Dark Ages

Western Culture/Humanities Discussion Board Post.....I think I will elaborate more on this topic.  

Is modern American culture entering into a new “Dark Ages?”  I would have to say, beyond a doubt, “YES!  We most certainly are!”  Just like the Roman “Dark Ages,” this is not about to fix itself over the next five years (or less) as the news keeps saying every evening.  Our defenses have been wounded and are low (911), our economy is failing and in debt, our people are struggling and illness and layoffs are hitting home to everyone. America’s beliefs and values are being shifted, questioned, and tested.  Instead of the church rising up and being an example we are finding them falling into the way of the world and greed from economic pressures.  Our need for God is growing, yet our leaders seem to be closing His door and trying to work this out with their flawed humanistic views, opinions, and small talk.  As the Roman Empire fell, in many ways we are quickly falling (I would almost say we have fallen), and we are on our own trying to find the “human made rope” to pull us back out.  If we look at history and the Bible this is not going to work.

In Mark chapter 15 Jesus is in the Roman Empire talking to its church and Christians.  Jesus tells them that this is not how things are suppose to be.  The way they are doing life and church is wrong.  It is directly related to them not God.  Jesus informs them that there is another way, and He commands them to repent.  They needed to change their direction and way of life.  This was before the “Dark Ages” of the Roman Empire.  They were warned and Jesus offered a way out.  This is true for us.  The prophecies have been told, and we are actively living them out on the negative and sinful side.   I was once told, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”  Mahatme Gandhi It starts with you, right here, right now.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Modern Day "Fatalism"

“Fatalistic” God
I'm sure I could sit here all day with you guys and list and discuss ways in which modern cultural is "fatalistic" (as defined by the Greeks). Even Christians today can have a "fatalistic" view of their God at times as the Greek's did with their Gods.

I would like to take a look at some questions I have asked myself many times in my life as well as outside my own life that demonstrates this "fatalistic" view that was displayed by the Greeks.

"God, can You hear me? Where are You when I need You the most? And Why do bad things happen to good people?" I could go on, but I think you know exactly what I mean as these are all questions we have asked at some point in our lives.

Habakkuk 1:2,13 (paraphrased)

How long, O Lord, must I call for help? But you do not listen! "Violence is everywhere!" I cry, but You do not come to save......But You are pure and cannot stand the sight of evil. Will You wink at their treachery? Should You be silent while the wicked swallows up people more righteous than they?"

Sound familiar? Perfect view of a "fatalistic" Christian feeling and thought that still applies today.

God created us with free will and the freedom to choose good or evil, right or wrong. God knew we needed to have the freedom to choose even though it would cause some injustice to the innocence. The Greeks knew and experienced this feeling in their own times as well have many people all the way throughout history. We live in a fallen and unfair world which at times makes it very easy to have a "fatalistic" view of our world and God. We feel abandoned, ignored, not good enough, not connected and as if we are being punished for our past mistakes. We feel that sometimes God is not personal, loving, compassionate, and forgiving. We feel the pain of injustice or what we feel is unfair. We even ask these questions and feel this way as the Greek did when it comes to our judicial system and political system even down to our everyday work environment. "Fatalism" in the modern world, as defined by the Greeks, is very much alive now as it was then. All we can do is put our faith in God's plan and our hope in His promise to redeem our fallen world if we wish to change this Greek "fatalistic" view that lingers on today. God loves you!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Telephone Game....How do I know the Bible is Real? Another Theology Thought

Did you ever play the game telephone in school? Maybe you did, but just forgot. It was simple, but a great way to back up my reasons as to why I believe the Bible is the Word of God for this discussion.
Let me explain the game first. Telephone was a game we played in school. There was about 20 kids in my class. The teacher would tell one student a secret in their ear only once. That student would then whisper the secret to another student and so on. Once the last student received the secret they would stand up and repeat the secret to the whole class. As usual it was nothing close to the original secret the teacher told. The point was to demonstrate how much and how fast even a small statement could change as it passed from ear to ear or from mouth to mouth. This is a great illustration and reason why I find the unity of the message from different human sources one of the best arguments that to Bible is the Word of God.

Looking closer at the readings from Dr. Towns this week we learned that " there was approximately 1600s years during which the various authors wrote the books of the Bible." (pg. 8 article Arguments that the Bible is the Word of God) The "Bible was written over 55 generations, yet remains a singular unity." (pg. 8 article Arguments that the Bible is the Word of God) Also, there were at lest 36 to 40 authors which held a "great diversity of occupations." (pg. 8 article Argument that the Bible is the Word of God) These authors were not located in one city, however they were spread out in time and locations, yet there still remains a singular unity/message throughout the Bible.

If you keep in mind the telephone game and how one statement, in one room, over just a few minutes changed and lost it's original idea completely then it would be impossible for the Bible to have been composed with such a unity (given the above mentioned facts of the telephone game) without the guidance of a greater source guiding them from the beginning to the end.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Theology Reflection Paper

Reflection Paper THEO 104

Amanda Gunter

Today the world is filled with injustice, fear, and temptation. Living
a Christian life is not just about acknowledging and inviting Christ into your
life as your Savior. It is a continual quest for a deepening of your relationship with Jesus, a quest for the grace of the Holy Spirit. Your journey begins on the day you accept the Lord into your heart. You must always strive to learn more, pray more, study His word more and
love Him more. There are many areas we can discuss from this point, but for now there are three pertinent points I want to highlight. They are as followed:

I. Why are personal testimonies important in sharing the
II. Does it matter how Christians live their lives?
III. What can your local church do to better communicate God’s love to your community?
My prayer is that by the end of this paper you and I both will have more understanding of how to share the gospel with others through our personal testimonies, what it means to actively
live as a Christian, and how Christians’ involvement in their church can help share God’s love in their community.

Personal Testimonies:

We are commanded to witness to others (Mark 16:15 NIV). We are commissioned to witness to others (2 Cor. 5:19-20), and we should be concerned about the souls of those who are lost (Roman 9:3). One way we share His love is through our own personal testimony. Just as unique as we are in God’s eyes; so are our stories. Each story/experience is different, personal, unique, and effective in sharing God’s mission and love with others. In Acts 22, 23, and 26 Paul gives us insight on how to share your personal story. He states to briefly explain your life “before” you received Christ, “how” you came to Christ, and your life “after” you became a follower of Christ. Since Paul (and God since the Bible was written with dual authorship) provided us with insight on sharing your personal testimony it must be important. Many people can argue theology and opinions all day long, however, they can not argue your personal experiences. As you begin to share your testimony, you open up a vulnerable moment which allows a person to feel what you feel/felt, and it allows them to trust you and gains their respect. You are really providing
a path for the Holy Spirit to work on their hearts with an “in the moment” example of your life and today’s times. A relationship begins to build on both ends as you allow them into a
part of your life that holds meaning and understanding and direction to you. As you roll through the emotions of your story, they are able to relate and understand with you. They join in and share and become curious. The Holy Spirit starts tugging on their hearts as they struggle and begin to feel conviction, emotions, and relate and understand through your personal testimony.
You can not do the work of the Holy Spirit. You can only share your story and connect
with them in ways that they have never connected before. Be honest, practical, and ready to answer questions. Be patient and understandingand know that your story is unique and special just as you are and as their story is and will be. Then always be in continuous prayer.

Ready Set Go!

Does it really matter how a Christian lives their lives? The answer is “YES!” Christians should also put God on display. If your boss sent you to cover his spot at a very important meeting, would you go in there without researching and understanding all the discussion points? Would you wear flip-flops and ripped jeans and no shirt to the meeting? Would you go into the meeting in place of your boss not prepared for questions, or even anything less than a positive representation of your company? I would like to think you are shaking your
head no, and wondering why someone would even think to do these things. Well, we as Christian, tend to walk a little sloppy, be a little unprepared, and at times we tend to be bad examples for others in our representation of Christ. We should accurately and effectively live a life that is pleasing to the one who saved/redeemed us. For our Savior paid a debt that we ourselves in our time on earth could ever come close to repaying. So we are to be obedient,
love our Father (in action, in thought, in words etc.), love our neighbor, seek
out lost souls, and be an active follower of Christ. We are His examples. When He says “Go,” we go. You never know who is watching you. So, it is very important to live actively and
obediently so that others will want to follow. We have chosen to do His work, even when it is hard and how we live is what others first see. We can not share the gospel yet live a life that is unpleasing to God and an inadequate display to others. So, we need to make sure we
are being positive representatives for Christ and His kingdom. “He paid it all, and all to Him I owe.” Live with this thought in mind and your actions will reflect.

The Church

So, how does all this play out in the church and your local community? Well, when we are actively living our lives as followers of Christ, and we gather as a community under the Lord’s house (with the same desires and goals) His name and Word is raised and unstoppable. Everything I have talked about is important and plays a role or has an effect on your local church. The Bible states, “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them,” (Matthew 18:20) and “if our God is with us then who could ever stop us.” (Chris Tomlin) We must help our local church practice, teach, display and defend the Word of God everyday for it to have a positive influence in our community. We need to be actively participating in the
church and its mission instead of criticizing and judging the church for not
doing the job that we ourselves are not doing. What we do individually reflects and impacts what we do and how we represent God when we gather as a church. God has redeemed us and wants to enroll us in His mission in our individual lives and through our Church and flood that love into our community. Strong individuals lead to strong a church which leads to amazing changes in your community and around the world and they are unstoppable. By setting an example
with the foundations scripture has laid out for us and being actively involved
in the mission and change of your local church will bring about less confusion
and misunderstanding and amazing results pouring out of you and your church
family. As important as it is for an individual to be an example it is the same with the church. A church that leads by poor judgment or falls short to earthly sin has little power and will not prevail in the mission of the Church and of God. The church must be Christ-centered and not self-centered. They should preach the word of God, and set an example for those to
follow in. They should be an exciting and relevant church for un-churched people.
The church has a huge role in your community, and you should be a part of it.
They are your family, and you should desire to help it grow and bring
comfort for those searching for answers, hurting, or in need of a little extra love.


So, everything we do and say should be a reflection of Christ. We should only seek to please Him not the world. How we live is a direct reflection of who we are and what we believe. You can say many good things, but if your actions don’t reflect then it is meaningless and confusing to others who are trying to believe and understand. It’s not about you. God loves us all, and
wants us all on His mission not sitting back on the sidelines watching. Get in His race, and run it proud, run it humble, and help others along the way.

Communication Class Discussion Post

I was so torn trying to figure out what to write about with this discussion. I really felt that they all tied together, so then my post will tie them all together. Right or wrong, this is the direction I am running. With that said, let us begin.

Small Talk: Small talk, as defined on page 356 of Seiler & Beall's Communication book, is "casual conversation that is often impersonal and superficial, including an exchange of hellos or comments about the weather, newsworthy events, or trivia." It "provides an avenue for getting to know another person by talking about non threatening, impersonal subjects. It has value and is effective when properly executed/performed. It also has the ability to lay the ground work for developing relationships and possibly long-term relationships. Of course the reading material provided suggestions for effective conversation such as good eye contact, use names, allow the other person to talk about themselves, keep conversation casual, light, and positive, and be confident in yourself. Through small talk a person will be able to determine whether or not to continue the relationship and as to what level to pursue that relationship (personal, business, romantic etc.)

Developing Relationships: So, now that we have met and participated in some effective small talk we will embark on a new relationship adventure. (Adventure is a key word here.) Our small talk increases to lengthy conversation and engages in in-depth levels of emotions as we learn and discover new things about each other. Attraction has played its role in the beginning, and now we adventure into the heart of each other. (This for me was the hard part of dating.) We share goals, likes and dislike, personal interest, hobbies and even conflict sometimes as we become more developed. You navigate through Knapp and Vangelisti's stages of initiating, experimenting, intensifying, integrating and bonding and now have a functioning developed relationship hopefully. Lasting Relationships: So, our effective small talk two years ago while waiting on our coffee lead to an amazing developed relationship. Although it has not all been icing on the cake, we have kept the communication door open (which is key) and "became one" as the Bible states or best friends. So, lets look at what keeps a relationship going. Looking outside the reading this week, and the main thing in any relationship is putting God front and center and putting a door stop on communication to keep it open. Navigating back to the reading Seiller & Beall suggest the following: (pg. 399)

•Do favors for each other

•Celebrate special events together

•Surprise each other

•Create romantic environments/moments•Spend time together.

•Display physical affection any moment you can

•Reminisce/share memories together

•Say 'I love you'

•Be playful•Be accountable, trusting, and forgiving

•COMMUNICATE (Verbal & Nonverbal Remember sometimes your nonverbal communication speaks louder than your verbal)

To wrap all this up is simple. Effective small talk leads to developing relationships which can lead to long satisfying relationships in your life. It all starts with "Hello, my name is Amanda. You are?"