I’ve noticed since I’ve been in Israel that Jews avoid saying or writing the name of God. They call him HaShem (the name) or Elohim. When writing in Hebrew, they use השם, אלהים. In English, G-d. I understand that they do this out of respect. However, I have a different way of showing respect. First of all, I don’t shy away from using God’s many names in praise and worship. Second of all, I capitalize pronouns related to God. For example, He, Him, You, Who. I do this as a way of setting Him apart and showing respect. You may think that both the Jewish and Christian way of saying and writing God’s name are correct. However, I find the Jewish way offensive. Consider how curse words are censored. Symbols are used in place of letters in an attempt to make the word more appropriate. Why would anyone censor God’s name the way cuss words are censored? Since when is censoring showing respect for the word? Additionally, people use words in place of cuss words so they don’t seem as bad. Some people argue that using these words is as bad as cursing because they use them to have the same meaning as the curse words. Thus, how is saying HaShem different from saying God, when you are referring to God? Conversely, capitalization is a sign of respect. Important words are often capitalized for emphasis and out of reverence. Capital pronouns were even used for royalty. Also, saying God’s name is a form of praise and worship, not blasphemy and disrespect. One way I show respect for God is by using His many names when I sing to Him. In doing so, I am recognizing His sovereignty and His character. In conclusion, why would anyone treat God’s good name like a bad word? Like good words, God’s name should be used and glorified.
Yesterday’s prayer J.A.R. challenge was to praise God for who He is and what He has done.
This was interesting because it went deeper than just thanking Him for things that went well during my day. It was quite an experience to think about who He is, and praise Him by all of the names that describe His character: Rock, Provider, Merciful One, Lover of My Soul.
When I got to the “what He has done” part, I didn’t think just about the things He has done for me recently, but also the things He has done for me since the beginning of time. Creating me, sending His Son to die for my sins, forgiving me, loving me unconditionally, blessing me when I don’t deserve it.
I started thinking about all the little things He does for me everyday. As an example, I thought about if I was crossing the steeet and didn’t see a car coming, but God intervened and got the driver’s attention so they saw me and stopped. I would probably never know that even happened, but God was there, watching over me.
There’s a quote (there always is, right?) about how God is always working in our lives.
God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of 3 of them.
I find that so encouraging! Even when I feel like God isn’t doing anything, He is working behind-the-scenes to make everything work together for my good.
Sorry I’m a little behind on posting these. The thing is that I usually do them at night, so I can’t post until at least the next morning.
My challenge for day 4, which was 2 days ago, was to pray for the world.
That sounds like a pretty heavy challenge, doesn’t it? There’s a lot of tragedies happening in the world right now, which means there’s a lot to pray about.
As I was praying, I found myself becoming irritated with the world. I obviously wasn’t going to blame God for what was happening, so who was left to blame?
People. Us. You. Me.
It’s so easy for us to point the finger at God and say, “If He is a merciful God who controls everything, then why is He letting bad things happen?” I know, trust me I do, how difficult of a question that is to answer, and how caught up on it people get.
The simple answer is, it’s not His fault. It’s because of evil. If you want to blame someone, blame Satan!
You might think, “Why can’t God just abolish evil?” Well, eventually He will. It says so in Romans 16:20-“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.”
Until then, it goes back to the matter of free will, which I posted a quote about not long ago. Though free will makes evil possible, it also makes possible any joy or goodness worth having.
Maybe you’ve seen the movie Bruce Almighty, where a man played by Jim Carrey is given the powers of God, and told he can do anything but mess with free will.
He tries to use his powers to get his ex-girlfriend to love him, but it doesn’t work. But isn’t that a good thing? Because would love even be love if it were forced? Doesn’t it feel good when someone loves you not because they have to, but because they want to?
Sure, there is a lot of evil in the world, but there is also a lot of good. I’m not suggesting we ignore the evil. I’m suggesting we overcome it with the good. Romans 12:21 puts it beautifully: “Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.”
Conquer. That’s such a powerful word. Conquer evil! Be so good that evil just can’t stand it!
I would like to close with a quote that was on my mind while I was praying for the world.
People deny the existence of God, and then blame Him for the chaos that ensues.
Today’s challenge was to pray for myself. I understand that sounds selfish, but it’s really not. See, I have trouble praying for myself. I feel like I don’t deserve to ask God for anything. After all, I’m a sinner who doesn’t deserve anything He does for me.
The reason I made this a challenge is because I want to learn that it is not bad to pray for myself. I want to feel comfortable bringing my worries, requests, and feelings to him. I want to believe that He cares.
Usually when I pray, I put myself last. I thank God, I confess my sins, I pray for others, and then I pray for myself. Since I do my biggest prayer at night, sometimes I fall asleep before I get to myself.
Today was a great day to have this challenge because it was the first day of my semester. I had a lot to pray about! One of the biggest things is adjusting to school starting, and being in a different country where things are so much different than in America. Also, there are some things weighing on me emotionally, that it felt good to bring to God.
There’s a quote that I really like that I often need to remind myself of. It goes like this:
God is not bothered by our constant coming and asking. The way to trouble God is not to come at all.
I was going to post this yesterday, but I ended up not doing the challenge until I went to bed.
Yesterday’s challenge was to pray for opportunities to share my faith. That was fitting because I started my semester today, which should give me plenty of opportunities to share my faith.
I took it a step further, and asked God to help me to see the opportunities He gives me, and to give me the courage to start spiritual conversations.
A lot of the friends I’ve made here claim to be Christians, but I intend to have conversations with them so I can discover what being a Christian means to them. Then I can tell them what it means to me. That’s another way to share my faith.
This challenge reminded me of the importance of seeking out opportunities to share my faith.
I know I just posted the Prayer J.A.R. post, but I actually wrote it a couple days ago. I was just having some technical difficulties.
Like I said in that post, I’m going to share how my challenge went each day. Since I’m on my second day, I’ll be posting twice today to catch up.
My challenge the first day was to pray in the morning instead of at night.
The reason I wrote that one is because I am a stickler for praying at night, and I thought it could be good to switch up my routine.
I drew that slip in the morning, and since I had prayed the night before, I decided to not pray that night and then pray the next morning.
When it came time for me to go to bed last night, I felt like I really needed to talk to God. I realized that’s it’s never a bad thing to pray, so I’d pray both at night and in the morning. However, when I prayed last night it wasn’t how I usually pray. It was more like venting to God. This morning, I prayed how I usually pray at night. It felt weird.
I did it while lying in bed because that’s what I’m used to, but I couldn’t focus. I kept wanting to get up and start my day. Plus, it was confusing to pray about yesterday and today at the same time. Usually when I pray at night, I talk about the day I just had.
I probably won’t switch my prayer time from night to morning, but I will definitely try to pray more consistently throughout the day.
The other day, I was thinking about how last semester my friend would challenge me to pray differently than I usually do. I remember that being a really interesting experience and I thought I’d try it again. One night, when I was praying, God gave me the idea for a prayer jar. You probably think of a prayer jar as a place where you keep your prayer requests. Mine, however, is not like that. Mine is where I keep prayer challenges. It could be a challenge to pray in a certain way, or about a certain thing. When I sat down to write out the challenges, I only had a few in mind. I ended up with 16! I am both excited and nervous to take on these challenges. Tomorrow morning, I will pick my first slip of paper. As I’m writing this, it occurs to me that I could post about each challenge and what I do. I might just do that. For now, here’s a picture of the slips of paper with the challenges, and my Prayer J.A.R. It’s an acronym because I decided that J.A.R. stands for Jesus Accepts Requests. Let me know what you think of this idea, and if you do something similar. Also, feel free to send me new challenges!
P.S. excuse the white boxes-I wasn’t able to remove them
The time has come to tell you about my extraordinary plans for this fall. I will be studying abroad on mission in Jerusalem, Israel for four months. This is an exciting opportunity for me and I wanted to share some details with you. My study abroad program is through my university. However, I am partnering with Cru Study Abroad so I can live missionally while I’m in Israel.
The main reason I chose to study abroad in Israel is that I am minoring in Hebrew. Of course there are so many benefits to studying in Israel. It is the Holy Land, and I look forward to experiencing the land where Jesus walked and taught.
I recently received my Missions Toolbox from Cru Study Abroad, and I was thrilled by what was inside. I’m going to give you a peek inside to help you understand what I’ll be doing in Israel. If you are familiar with Cru, you know that they have a lot of resources for starting spiritual conversations and sharing the gospel. Among these are Soularium, Perspective Cards, Knowing God Personally, and Satisfied. (To learn more about these, visit crupress.com) I have had at least a little practice with all these tools, and I look forward to putting them to use in Israel.
Another tool in my Missions Toolbox is my Study Abroad Playbook. With help from my coach, I will be able to take advantage of all the information in it. My coach is going to lead me through the book and help me learn how to live on mission while abroad. They will be my sounding board, my encouragement, and my kick in the pants. As much as I want to share the gospel while I’m in Israel, I know it won’t be easy. I will need some accountability.
God has blessed me with the financial means necessary to live comfortably in Israel for 4 months. I would love it if you would consider supporting me prayerfully. Opportunites like these come with inherent risks and obstacles, so I can use all the prayer I can get.
I will try my best to keep up with this blog while I’m in Israel. I know I am going to have so many adventures and stories to tell, so stay tuned. I leave for Israel in about a month and a half, and there is still so much to do. I ask that you please start praying for me now. I trust that God will provide for me once I am in Israel, and that he will get me there safe and sound.
If you would like to talk with me about my trip, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yours in Christ,
“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Two years ago, I remember sitting in the Oklahoma Memorial Union at the University of Oklahoma as people crowded around the TVs to watch and celebrate the legalization of gay marriage. I figured there would be a celebration this year on the anniversary of that day. Instead, a whole month was dedicated to LGBTQIA+ pride. You can see it everywhere: social media, pride parades, TV, movies, magazines. As a Christian, I obviously do not condone homosexuality or any of the other lifestyles included in LGBTQIA+. I believe the Bible when it calls them sinful. Of the many issues I have with pride month, one of the biggest is their adaptation of the rainbow from a Biblical symbol to a symbol of gay pride.
Earlier this month, a Google doodle celebrated a gay man named Gilbert Baker, who came up with the concept for the modern day pride flag. It started with 8 stripes, but has since been cut down to six. The remaining colors are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet. Baker assigned a meaning to each color. Red is life, orange is healing, yellow is sunlight, green is nature, blue is serenity, and violet is spirit. None of those color meanings are bad. What I believe is bad is that the rainbow flag represents something unbiblical, even though the rainbow was originally a Biblical symbol.
Let’s go back in time for a moment to after the flood that destroyed God’s original creation, except for Noah and his family. In Genesis 9, God makes a covenant with Noah that is represented by the rainbow.
Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with…every living creature on earth…Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood…”And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.” (Genesis 9:8-15)
Whenever I see a rainbow, I thank God for not flooding the earth and destroying all creation, even though I am a sinner not worthy of saving. But it’s more than that. Rainbows remind me not only of God’s covenant with Noah, but also of all the other promises he made in the Bible. They remind me of God’s everlasting love and faithfulness and forgiveness.
That is why it’s insulting to see such a sacred symbol waved around in celebration of sin. I feel like I can’t use the colors of the rainbow without people thinking I’m supporting gay rights. I’m not. I just like the rainbow because of what it represents to me (and also because it’s pretty).
I know this is a controversial topic and that I probably have an unpopular opinion. But I felt the need to share this because I wanted to stand up for God. I’m sure that it’s upsetting to him, too, to see the sign of his covenant misused in such a way.
I’m not expecting anything to change. I know that the rainbow will continue to be the symbol of gay pride. I only hope that it will also continue to be remembered as a sign of God’s covenent, and of his love.