I never really got the point of history. I'd heard the default adult response too many times: "You can learn from history." Yeah, I can learn that Hitler was evil and that Napolean was short. I still haven't grasped the importance of reading about dead people. I mean, they might have been the big kahunas of their time, but if they're dead, they really aren't doing much, are they?
Religion is filled with the stories of dead people. Every religion has its roots and its history. Take Buddhisim's Sidhartha, or the Buddha. Sidhartha was a prince, living an extravagant yet sheltered life in his father's palace. One day he happened to see all the poor, starving beggars of his country for the first time, and from then on vowed to live a simple life outside the palace grounds and away from the comfort and wealth of his home. Then he died. The same goes for Muhammed, and every religion leader...except one.
Jesus Christ is the only religious leader who is alive today. The others had some nice ideas, but they all passed away. Jesus doesn't fade, and His followers don't either. Since Jesus is alive, His Word is still alive as well.
 Isn't that a powerful verse? God's word is alive and working! No matter how thick the walls around our hearts have become, the Holy Spirit breaks down the wall and sends the verses straight to our hearts, "where the soul and the spirit are joined".
I've had countless people tell  me that every time you read the Bible, you learn more from it. Even if you've read it 4 times cover to cover, you will always discover something new. That's the living power of Scripture and the working power of the Holy Spirit. The Bible is alive! Every time you read the Bible, you can know God more.
When you read about Jesus in the Bible, you can be sure He made history -- but He is still making history today! You aren't reading about a great dead guy, but an amazing living Savior.

Pick one of the shorter books of the New Testament. Read the whole book every day this week. God will point out something new each time.

"God's word is alive and working and is shaper than a double-edged sword. It cuts all the way into us, where the soul and the spirit are joined, to the center of our joints and bones. And it judges the thoughts and feelings in our hearts." (Hebrews 4:12)


CPR and a Guy Named Peep

I took a CPR/First Aid class yesterday to be a better babysitter. When we arrived at the class, a pile of legless, armless, decoy people were lying in a pile on the floor. There were even a few limbless babies in that pile. It was very disturbing.

We watched an American Heart Association DVD and then were directed to sit on the floor and choose a fake person – I’ll call them Peeps. It wasn’t that hard; they were all the same.
My Peep looked up at me with cream-colored eye sockets (he had no eyeballs that I could see). He did have a squishy chest, a bald head, and even a bellybutton. He had a mouth as well, which was guarded, for hygienic reasons, by a plastic sheet that went into his mouth, down his throat, and into his torso. Disposable lungs.
I did not like Peep.
As much as I disliked him, suddenly he was dying. What was I going to do? I had to save him! Peep – and all his buddies – were unconscious!
I looked left and right. “The scene is safe,” I announced. Then I tapped his shoulders. “Are you OK? Are you OK?” Peep didn’t say anything. I know what he was thinking: Do I LOOK OK?!
Since he made no reply, I had to take action.
I pulled his neck back, pinched his nose, and took a deep breath. I leaned down, hesitantly, and pressed my mouth against Peep’s. I wondered how many people had done this before. I breathed two deep breaths into him, and to my horror, his chest rose and fell.
I had to stay calm. “Good, Peep,” I said, and began pounding on his chest to the beat of the DVD. “One. Two. Three. Four.” I counted my way up to thirty. With each compression, his chest gave a sickening click. I wondered how many of his ribs I had broken already.
Two more breaths. Thirty more compressions. 2 breaths. 30 compressions. I repeated this over and over, a little light headed, bouncing up and down against his chest. I don’t know how I did it. It must have been the adrenaline rush. You can Google it.
Finally, it was over. Now it was time for infant CPR.
There must have been a defect when God made the Peeps, because they obviously were highly susceptible to dying. Peep Jr. thought he’d take after his father and stopped breathing.
I confirmed that the scene was safe and began to save the life of the little stubby dude. I cocked his head back – a bit too hastily; his neck snapped. I was in the zone now. I stuck my finger between his man-made nipples and started pressing my fingers into his chest, not realizing I was spearing him with my nails in the process. Oh well, he’ll live.
It was over and I was exhausted. Peep Jr. still looked a little pale; his skin was cold and his eyes unseeing, but I figured he’d better be OK by now.
I saved two precious lives that day. I was proud as a peacock. That is, until we had to dispose of the Peeps’ lungs. I pulled at the plastic around Peep’s mouth. It came up and got caught on something in his throat. I gave another pull and threw the lungs in the trash.
So long, Peep. It was nice saving you.


Be Still and Know

Last Sunday, our congregation sang “Be Still and Know” by Steven Curtis Chapman. It begins:

Be still and know that He is God
Be still and know that He is Holy
Be still oh restless soul of mine
Bow before the Prince of Peace
Let the noise and clamor cease
Be still

As I tried not to cough into microphone and while gentle guitar strums filled the air, my worship pastor began to speak. “When you sing this song, imagine God singing it to you, because He does.” Softly he changed the words to the first person, to what God sings when He hears our voices.

Be still and know that I am God
Be still and know that I am Holy
Be still oh restless soul, you’re Mine
Bow before Me, the Prince of Peace
Let the noise and clamor cease
Be still and know that I am God
Be still and know that I am faithful
Consider all that I have done
Stand in awe and be amazed
And know that I will never change
Be still and know that I am God
Be still and know that I’m your Father
Come rest your head upon My breast
Listen to the rhythm of
My unfailing heart of love
Beating for My little ones
Calling each of you to come
Be still


When Music Rules Our Lives

The music we listen to every day affects us more than we could ever know. While we work out, fold laundry, or hang out in our bedrooms, our brains are feeding nonstop on our iPods, CDs, and radios.

Author Stephanie Meyer wrote the Twilight series while listening to Muse, My Chemical Romance, and Coldplay. Singer Taylor Swift is inspired by Kelly Pickler’s songs. Songwriters all over the world will tell you that you have to listen to good music to make good music. In the movie Josie and the Pussycats, the music bands play secretly send messages to the brains of all the fans. Using music as a tool, the industry is able to sway public opinion, trends, sales, and worldviews.
As weird as it sounds, the music industry actually whispers messages into our heads. Sometimes we don’t notice them – maybe we’re too busy dancing (or maybe that’s just me). But the whispers are there and they aren’t going away. Some music “whispers” good things to you, like in Taylor Swift’s “Change”, Relient K’s “More Than Useless”, or Britt Nicole’s “You”. These songs inspire positive views of life, whereas other songs influence you in negative ways by sending you messages about sex, or by using explicit language. Even negativity, revengeful lyrics, or a sense of “who needs God when I’ve got me” are dangerous to your mental health and wellbeing. Songs like Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl” give us false views about love and relationships while Pink’s “So What” evokes a feeling of anger and revenge.
What you listen to really does affect how you see the world around you. Think of it as an IV into your brain. Are you filling your brain with junk or with truth?
I first heard Pink’s “So What” on Dancing with the Stars. I thought it sounded quirky and cool, but I didn’t pay attention to the lyrics. When I put it on my iPod and got past the initial “na na na na na na na” part, I was surprised by the lyrics. Besides dropping the s-word, the singer rants about an unfaithful husband and starting fights while drinking her money away. My reaction was, “Wow. OK. It’s not so bad, though, right? I wouldn’t really do that stuff, and I’m not listening to the words. I just like the beat.” Excuses for what you listen to are lame and they get you into loads of trouble. I’ve chosen to not listen to that song anymore. I don’t want it to influence my choices or attitude in life. My mind and wellbeing is more important than a song.
God knows that music is a big issue in your life. He’s willing to help you sort the good from the bad. His advice to you? “Whatever is pure, whatever is right, whatever is noble, think about such things.”
- Following God’s advice to you, what songs do you need to rid your life of? Go ahead and take them off your iPod or chunk the CD in the garbage so no one else has to listen to it.
- When you’re hanging out with friends, encourage them to listen to positive music. If you guys are listening to a song that doesn’t honor God, ask if you can listen to a different song. If they say no, they aren’t honoring God or you, so they probably aren’t your real friends at all.