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Showing posts from 2008

Striking the Set

Picture this: for the past two months of your life, you have worked very hard on a project. You and a group of others work approximately four hours every single weeknight to meet the project deadline. Both your body and your brain hurt as work on the project takes incredible physical and mental stamina. But through it all, you find comraderie and fellowship with those laboring next to you. Finally, the big day has come. You and your teammates are ready to present the project to the public. The public loves it. They applaud you for a job well done. You feel a sense of accomplishment and purpose. Then, you and your friends turn around, and tear the project apart piece by piece with your bare hands.

Sound crazy? It's more common than you think. In the theatre world, this is what is known as "striking the set." For an actor, it's perhaps the most dreaded, unwelcome task there is.

I used to hate strike. Not only are you completely exhausted after pouring your heart and so…

Deconstructing Christmas?

We recently received an email from a reader (or visitor perhaps) warning us about the "dangers" that are associated with Christmas. Here is an excerpt from that email:

I would just like to warn you in the Holy Ghost that this so-called Christmas season is not of God. In fact it is an abomination unto Him and as a child of the Most High God I must warn you of this . . If it were really of God the world would have nothing to do with it. They hate Jesus. Jesus was not born on Dec. 25th. He was born around October and not only that but there is no date given in the Holy Word of God . . . There is not one scripture in the Bible admonishing us to celebrate his birth. We are told to celebrate his death, burial and resurrection which we do when we have the Lord's supper. There are lots of good websites which have all the information re this idolatrous false worship . . I admonish you to take heed to God's Word regarding this abomination and flee this idolatry for that is wha…

Romanticizing the Past

Every fall semester I put in a few extra hours and teach a course at a local community college. One of my favorite ways to begin the semester is to ask each student, "If you could be one age for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?" It never fails: the number of students who choose an age in the past always outweighs both the students who choose an age in the future and those who choose their current age combined.

Most of us will admit to doing this as well. We've looked back at a time in the past and thought, "Wow, I wish I could be (x) years old again!" I think this is especially true for women. When you consider the pressure that the world places upon women to be physically attractive, it is easy for us to look in the mirror and lament the days when we were 20 years younger and 20 pounds lighter.

But worse than this, we have a tendency to romanticize the past. Again, everyone has experienced this phenomenon from time to time, but I feel women espe…

Is Christianity Arrogant?

Back in May of 2006, I was privileged to attend an Evangelism Boot Camp in New York City (which is where I met Geraldine). One day, the group of us went to Washington Square Park and we sat around the fountain, taking turns preaching. As a brother named Donovan was preaching, a heckler reacted angrily to Donovan's assertion that he would be in heaven. The heckler stood up and challenged Donovan, saying, "You are so arrogant!" Donovan probed him for an explanation and the heckler said, "You're arrogant because you say you know that you're going to heaven! You are so full of yourself!"

I never wanted to be preaching so badly as I did at that moment. I wanted to push Donovan off the fountain, take the microphone out of his hand, and explain to this heckler that he was looking at the issue from the wrong perspective. It all goes back to Charles' Stanley's illustration on faith vs. hope. I detailed this illustration back in July, but I will review it…

Misguided Hope

A few years ago, I was in a Bible study with some new believers. One night we were examining Matthew 17. When we came to verse 20, which reads: "If you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you," one of the girls in the study suddenly blurted out, "That's not true!"

We were all quite stunned by the outburst, but I asked her to elaborate. She explained that as her grandmother lay dying in a hospital, she prayed to God earnestly to let her grandmother live. "It says here to have faith as a mustard seed, but I had much more faith than that! She died anyway. It doesn't work." I asked her to define for me what she meant by "having a lot of faith." She said faith was believing with all your might. I explained to her that the reason her grandmother died was because she didn't have any faith. Instead, she had described hope. We like to thin…

Jennifer Gives the 411 on "Annie"

After a month of depressing stories, courtesy of my testimony, I thought I'd lighten things up a bit and choose a theme of "Hope" for the month of December. The Film of the Month to accompany our theme is Annie. Now I know what some readers might be thinking, "Annie? That's for kids!" or, "Hrm, I think I'll skip this one this month." Stay with me on this. Annie is more than meets the eye.

STATS
Year: 1999 (Not Rated - Made for Television by Disney)
Directed by Rob Marshall, based on the stageplay by Thomas Meehan (book) Charles Strouse (music) & Martin Charnin (lyrics)
Starring Kathy Bates, Victor Garber, Audra MacDonald, Alan Cumming, Kristin Chenoweth and a special appearance by Andrea McArdle
Setting: New York City, 1933.

Content warning: No objectionable content observed, however Annie does lie and steal during the "Tomorrow" scene with the police officer. The film takes the position that deceit and theft are wrong.

Please N…

The Day I Came to Life

My senior year of high school was a depressing time. My relationship with Jason was officially over. As a symbol of my "independence," I cut off all my hair. I wanted people to think I didn't care, but I was absolutely devastated. The grief over losing my best friend was magnified by the increasing pressure to devote my life to meaningless activities, like playing the French Horn. I was talented. But if I was going to live a mere projected seventy years, I wanted my brief life to make an impact on humanity. Playing the horn would not suffice. What I really wanted be was a writer.

I once wrote a story about a very talented young girl who was admired by all, but because she saw no reason for her existence, she committed suicide. Nobody found the body for four days.That final school year I found comfort and solace in various existential writers and poets. They were able to articulate the extreme sense of despair that I felt, and gave me the sense that I was not alone in the …

My Teenage Romance: A Tragedy in Two Acts

In preparation for our theme of the month, I surfed the internet a bit and came across an article by J.T. Webb entitled Existential Depression in Gifted Individuals. I can pretty much stop here and just have you read the article. It describes my adolescence with frightening accuracy, particularly with regard to interpersonal relationships. Webb states: "Isolation recognizes that no matter how close we become to another person, a gap always remains, and we are nonetheless alone." No example from my adolescence could illustrate this concept better than my high school romance.

ACT I: 1988-1990
Jason and I became fast friends early in the 1988-1989 school year. Toward the end of that same year, Jason passed me a note. "Jen, I really like you and I want to ask you to be my girlfriend," it read. That was the start of a whirlwind romance that would continue for the next two years.

Jason was the sweetest, kindest, most thoughtful, sensitive, and compassionate human being I ha…

A Fool Remembered

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Since this month's theme is "Testimony," I thought I'd take a break from my own story and share the fascinating testimony of a dear brother in Christ, Jim Jones. Jim had plans of starting his own coven just before The Lord saved him. Here is Jim's story, in his own words:

You've probably noticed, choosing a man that has grown up with the name of an infamous cult leader and calling him to evangelism shows our Lord has a sense of irony.

I was raised going to a Seventh-Day Adventist church, because that is what my family did. I also attended private church-run schools up through and including two years of college, where I gained a fair amount of knowledge in scripture and religion. I even studied for the ministry. However, a walk with a church as opposed to a walk with Christ wasn't enough to sustain me. Eventually, I turned away and took a path that lead into drugs, the occult and other dark shadows.

I practiced Wicca as a solitaire for about three years. I …

Young, Talented, and Depressed

Tenth grade was perhaps the greatest year of my pre-regenerate life. It seemed like everything I touched turned to gold. Academically, I was on top of the world. I got spectacular grades in all my courses (much of the time without even trying), which placed me tenth in my graduating class (of 186). I was now the head of the French Horn section in the school band, and got invited to participate in the All-County orchestra. Upon auditioning, I was named first chair French Horn player (which loosely equates to being the best in the county). The music department took notice of my leadership and talent and cast me as the lead in the school musical. The show immediately catapulted me into social renown among students, teachers, and parents. If that weren't enough, I also won a place of honorable mention in my school's Mark Twain Literary contest. It was quite a year. But it was awful.

Underneath the awards and accolades, I knew that everything I held in the palm of my hand was flee…

Existentialism 101

My teenage years appeared to be picture perfect on the surface. I was an academic superstar, artistically talented, and always had a smile on my face. Yet no one knew that beneath my sunny, cheerful exterior, I was hiding a dark secret. Between the ages of 13 and 18, I was a closet existentialist.

By the time I was fifteen years old, the philosophy literally dictated my every thought and deed from the moment I woke up, to the moment I went to sleep at night. Upon hearing that I was once lost in existentialism, most people will look puzzled and ask, "What is that?" So before I continue with the remainder of my testimony, I thought I would take some time to address what existentialism is, and why it is so dangerous.

Existentialism is a philosophy that is not easily defined, because it has no set definition. Basically, the idea is that life has no meaning apart from the meaning that we create and apply to it. Essentially, each person is responsible for defining himself and assi…

Right Place, Right Time

In the year 2006 I was blessed to be a part of Evangelism Boot camp in New York. I had that previous year heard the life changing message Hell's Best Kept Secret and had my eyes opened to many things in the faith that were not taught or revealed to me previously. One such thing was exactly what sin is and why Jesus died and rose again. Foundational truths yes! But no one told me anything about them! The only messages I heard were "Jesus loves you so much that he died for you" and that was it. There was no explanation of what sin is or the reason Jesus had to die in the first place.When I arrived I felt overwhelmed with the fact I made it through the flight alone!

Born Again.......Again!
Well, with feeling like I was born again, again (!) and my heart on fire to evangelise (see my last post) I heard of a ministry that went out, hit the streets using the principles taught by Way of the Master, a ministry birthed from the HBKS message. With nothing like it over here and feeli…

The Tract that Came Back

This story is a bit longer than usual, but it's worth the read! If you have ever wondered whatever became of the tract you gave to that complete stranger, then let this story encourage you.

Facing my mortality at thirteen was a turning point in my life. I suddenly viewed the world as a meaningless exercise in futility. The only hope that remained was my belief in the existence of a God who knew the answers to all my burning questions. In an effort to learn more about who God was, I took very seriously the religion I was born into, which was Roman Catholicism. But after a very disappointing incident on the day I made confirmation, I became completely disenchanted with the Church. That same night, lying in my bed and staring at the ceiling, I was seething with anger at God. "I'm sick of this!" I said to the ceiling. "Why won't you tell me who You are?" I waited for a response. I had no idea what to expect, but I never got one. "You know what?" I …

Thirteen and Mortal

It was the summer of 1987. At thirteen, there was not much for me to do aside from having the occasional friend over, completing my assigned summer reading for school, and watching television. One of the television shows I watched religiously was A Current Affair (not to be confused with the Australian program by the same name). A Current Affair was a New York based, television tabloid show that focused on scandals. Unsolved murders and celebrity deaths were a regular topic on the program, but the Summer of 1987 was an unusually popular season for death. That's because August of 1987 marked the 10th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death (August 16) as well as the 25th anniversary of the death of Marilyn Monroe (August 5).

Every weekday I watched this program. It seemed there was an endless amount of stories to report about Elvis or Marilyn: how lonely they were in life, how they both tried to reduce their emotional pain with drugs, superficial relationships, and material posse…