McDonald’s, Muscles and Math Geeks

Hi everyone. I’m Jake and I’m a 20-year-old ‘Jesus freak’ that likes an eclectic mix of music and any sports that involve a ball (except cricket…someone explain it to me?). I’m delighted to have been asked to contribute to this stream of blog posts which from what I have read so far have been pretty good and very encouraging.

So where am I from? Well I was born just north of Birmingham, England but have lived in Scotland for the past 8 and a bit years. I’m currently working as a church development worker for Thurso and North Coast Free Church in the Highlands of Scotland and on the side I am employed at Tesco…two jobs where I get paid to speak to people so I love it.

Amongst the other jobs I have worked in the past I have been a member of the Golden Arches Restaurant (McDonald’s) crew for a wee while and I try to keep fit and work my muscles and I don’t like Mathematics very much. A little random but it’s these three things I want to use as a springboard for my topic today; McDonald’s, Muscles and Math Geeks.

 

So what do McDonald’s, muscles and a math geek have in common?

Sounds a wee bit like the start of a joke but this question, or rather the answer to this question, poses an interesting topic for people. Growing is an important part of life and takes place all around us, inside us and is constantly happening. It’s taught in every classroom round the world to children of all ages.

Businesses like McDonald’s view growth as very important in order to make decent profits. Muscles need to be trained and to grow so that they don’t waste away and become gelatinous masses. Math geeks require a lot of studying crazy mathematical formulae and other numerical nonsenses so that they can grow in their knowledge. It doesn’t matter who you are, growth is important; right down from a baby taking their first steps or getting first teeth right up to the athlete training for a marathon or a student studying for a biology test.

Christians, you know, the crazy people that go to church and pray and stuff, well they, just like every other human being, grow. For Christians the aspect of spiritual growth is as equally important as any other type of growth. In the Bible, and particularly in Paul’s letters, growth takes the driving seat as being one of the most important factors within Christian life; in short, we, as Christians, MUST grow.

Here are a few verses from the Bible that show us that we need to grow as Christians just in case you don’t believe me:

“Like new-born babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation…” 1 Peter 2:2

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” Ephesians 4:15

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18

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So to grow as a Christian is kind of a big deal then, huh? Well the Apostle Paul seems to think so and I’d bet my bottom dollar that taking what he has to say is true is a good idea. That challenge to grow can seem pretty weighty but I think we need to understand what is required of us. It’s not good to beat ourselves up when we don’t feel like we’re growing as fast as we should be, first off. When a baby takes their first steps and they fall over the parents don’t start yelling and telling the baby off for being so stupid in falling over. Rather, the parents and any onlookers applaud and smile hysterically at this baby’s few steps. Growth looks different for everyone and people will grow at different rates; we’ve just got to make sure it’s happening.

If we are to be growing, we need to ask ourselves a few questions in order to get an idea of where we’re at and where we need to be. Here is a wee evaluation that I find helpful to see if we are growing spiritually:

  • Self-Evaluation
  • 1) Complacency – Are we content to stay as we are?
  • 2) Comfort – Are we more concerned with our Christian habits rather than moving into a place that is uncomfortable in order to grow?
  • 3) Christ – Do we desire more of Jesus?

It’s helpful for us to ask ourselves these questions. Again, if you’re answers to these questions are along the lines of 1) yeah I’m pretty content to stay where I am, 2) I quite like being comfortable in my spirituality and 3) Jesus is just okay, then you definitely need to grow. You could be on the flip side though and be like 1) I’m so restless with myself and I just want to grow more 2) I’m happy to be moved outside my comfort zone and I make it a priority to undertake things which challenge me and 3) I desire more of Christ every day; good, but you have still got to work at it.

So how do we go after spiritual growth? Like where does the rubber hit the road and really start moving somewhere? How do we practically, realistically and spiritually grow?

I want to show you what I believe the Bible says in regards to how we can grow spiritually.

I like numbers so here is a breakdown of 5 points that we can use to grow:

1) It’s not going to happen overnight.

If we get discouraged from not growing as fast as we want to or we feel like we’re not growing at all, we need to look back to our source; God is the one who helps us grow. Spiritual growth is a long, drawn out process that lasts a life time. Christians are Christians for their whole lives and they grow over their whole life. Here is a quote by one of my favourite devotional writers, J C Ryle:

“Gradual growth in grace, growth in knowledge, growth in faith, growth in love, growth in holiness, growth in humility, growth in spiritual-mindedness – all this I see clearly taught and urged in Scripture, and clearly exemplified in the lives of many of God’s saints. But sudden, instantaneous leaps from conversion to consecration I fail to see in the Bible.” – J C Ryle

In short, our starting point is God and he uses our lives to grow us.

2) We need to be open about our state spiritually.

Farmers don’t pretend that everything is going great if it’s not. Farmers are usually the first people to say if a season of weather has been bad or if the crops haven’t done well. We need to be honest about the seasons of life that we’re going through too.
Share with a Christian brother or sister about your struggles; we haven’t been saved to be isolated, God saves us into a family. We also need to expect to have times when we feel flat. We’re not always going to be happy clappy everything is dandy.

True Christian joy is knowing that Jesus is there with you through it all.

3) We need to prioritise.

Spiritual growth is important and I think we’ve settled on that.

As it says in 1 Peter 2:2 “Grow up in your salvation” we need to be growing up, we need to make growing as a Christian a priority. We need to make growing up important and the means by which we do that need to take fundamental positions in our lives. So whether that’s meeting for prayer with Christians friends, going to church, reading the Bible, listening to sermons online, whatever it is, prioritise it!

4) We need to lower our own importance.

“The right manner of growth is to grow less in one’s own eyes.” Thomas Watson

Thomas Watson is one of my favourite writers from the Puritan era. What he is saying here is that in order for us to grow spiritually we need to grow less in our own importance.

As Christians that are wanting to grow we need to look at ourselves in the right way. It’s not about devaluing ourselves or slating ourselves or thinking of ourselves as muck but rather it’s looking at ourselves in the way God sees us. That, yes we are horrid and dirty and we make mistakes BUT with Jesus, God sees perfection.

The right way to see ourselves is to view ourselves as second.
In every situation, I am second. Whatever comes our way, whether it be a sibling wanting the choice on the TV or music in the car, whether it’s helping parents with shopping or laundry, whether it’s letting someone else have the last cake or choosing to forgive someone even if they didn’t say sorry, think ‘I am second’.

Only when we put Christ first and what He has shown us to do, can we grow spiritually.

5) We need JESUS.

Needless to say this is the most important part. Without Jesus we don’t grow, without Him we have no reason to grow. Here is a quote from a great theologian, Mr Tozer:

“The stiff and wooden quality about our religious lives is a result of our lack of holy desire. Complacency is a deadly enemy of all spiritual growth. Acute desire must be present or there will be no manifestation of Christ to His people.” A W Tozer

We need to desire Jesus. If we are going to grow we have to be seeking after Jesus with everything we’ve got. Just like a homing missile is attracted towards a metal aircraft, we need to be ardently, zealously pursuing Christ. We need Him to take away our complacency, our stiffness, our lack of growth.

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With Jesus we will go through difficult times. The gospel isn’t a “get out of jail free card”. The good news of Jesus is knowing that He paid it all, that we owe it all to Him. If we pursue growth, if we fight every day for that deeper relationship, one day we will be with God. Let’s be more like McDonald’s, Muscles and Math Geeks and grow. I want to leave you with this verse that I find a real inspiration:

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’” Matthew 25:21

Make-up – to Wear or Not to Wear?

Note from the editors: we see Eat Write Sleep as a channel for young Christians to share their ideas, life experiences and talents with everyone. Henceforth we shall be inviting a number of such Christians to post their work on our blog. Jemimah has the privilege (or misfortune, depending on which way you look at it!) of being our first ‘guest blogger’. So without further ado… take it away Jemimah!

When I first heard about Eat Write Sleep my reaction was, “What an amazing idea!” Taking the narrow window of the whole world as a topic area, Josh and Michael are two young people consolidating their personal viewpoints on culture, politics and life with the super glue of scripture. And I think it’s fantastic.

Who am I? Jemimah, a Christian girl in my mid-teens and fortunate friend of the writers of this blog, who have kindly invited me to add a seasoning of my own to the simmering compilation of ideas that constitute it.

As a teenage girl who experiences these issues myself, I’m really excited to use God’s word as a primary reference as I delve into some of the hot topics concerning young women in the modern world.

So, what’s my topic? I had so many ideas that this took rather a while to decide on.

However, as a decision had to be made, I eventually chose “Makeup”.

Many Christian girls today wear makeup, many others don’t, and speaking from my own experience, many girls have strong opinions on it.

But what does the Bible say about makeup?

Is it a good thing, or a bad?

In answering these questions, I’ve categorised makeup-wearers into three ‘types’. I realise that this is stereotypical, but seriously – it’s hardly possible to interview every single girl in the world!

So, here are my three ‘types’:

  • the Enhancers
  • the Coverers
  • the Unsures.

The Enhancers first of all. To my view, these are those who consider Scripture and only then decide whether or not they will wear makeup, and how much they’ll wear. Let’s take the 1 Peter 3:3 text to demonstrate what I mean: “Do not let your adornment be merely outward – arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel – rather let it be in the hidden person of the heart, with the incomparable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.”

So basically, we shouldn’t be just thinking about what we look like outwardly – our hairstyles, our jewellery and clothes (and makeup!) – but rather worried about what our heart’s like, wanting to have an incomparably beautiful, gentle and receptive heart which is really precious to God.

Does that mean that girls should not wear makeup, full stop?

Well, that is for each girl individually to decide. But with all things, we must keep in mind that we are “the temples of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19). God’s very spirit lives in us! Surely then, we’ll want to honour Him in how we look after our bodies.

To be perfectly honest, I’m not much of a makeup wearer. Yes, I do use BB cream and mascara on special occasions, for the soul purpose of novelty. I suppose it could be compared with putting on a nice dress for a wedding?

But I don’t think wearing or not wearing is necessarily the issue; what can be is when makeup draws away attention (either your own or others’) from our main goal. If makeup becomes a weight and draws away from the Lord Jesus Christ, then it’s definitely something to cut back on!

And there can be benefits of not wearing makeup regularly!  

  1. Firstly, foundations can be dermatologically harmful.

Personally, I’m not interested in covering my face with any product that will cause dermatological problems on the long run. I see that as plain counter-productivity, and definitely not the way to preserve the “temple of the Holy Spirit”!

  1. Going ‘clean’ is a time-saver.

I don’t think that I could ever imagine getting up earlier to put on makeup; I prefer to have more time to sleep. But remember, there are biblical reasons for not spending too much time on anything that’s not legitimate/furthering the cause of the Gospel. Ephesians 5:16 talks about “redeeming the time”; or in other words using the (relatively short) time we have on this Earth to the best ability that we can, to bring glory to our Heavenly Father and spread the good news of the Gospel.

Of course, it’s impossible to spend every free moment we have in spreading the Gospel – that’s not what I mean. Many of us have busy family lives, busy church lives and a job or are in full-time education – and helping at home and at church and working hard is a ministry in itself.

But perhaps spending less time in front of the mirror in the morning would give you more time to phone someone who would benefit from a call or do some washing up?

It may be only 30 minutes that you’ll save each day, but every little helps – and you’d be surprised how much a half-hour ‘free’ on your schedule can do.

  1. Making up on occasion is a novelty!

In July of this summer, I was a bridesmaid at my elder brother’s wedding and decided to wear some makeup. I admit, this was more for my brother’s and sister-in-law’s benefit than my own. I didn’t want to ruin their wedding photos by my eye-bags and spots.

However, it wasn’t actually that bad! I made the dangerous decision of entrusting my elder sister with ‘the deed’, and was expecting the worst. But it was a novelty; and made the day, and the photos afterwards, that little bit more special.

So let’s think about why we’re wearing makeup before we put it on.

Let’s not wear makeup to dramatically change our faces, but rather recognise that God has created us in our mothers’ womb for His own glory! I don’t know about you, but personally, I find that amazing. He “knit” each human being into the complex forms they are today (Psalm 139:13). WOWZA.

But what about Coverers?

Well, we girls have a tendency of overdoing things sometimes, and it’s the same with makeup. Those that struggle with overdoing makeup are the ones that I would class as Coverers.

I think that this ‘covering’ attitude arises from one main source:

What others look like.

If I didn’t struggle with this myself I might say that’s it’s irrational. Of course, it is, but how easy it can be to look around at others and then compare ourselves to them and put ourselves down.

I just want to encourage you to remember that ‘covering’ is not a biblical solution to this problem, even if it’s an easy route: God has made every human being to his praise, and so completely covering our faces because we think they’re ‘unworthy’ or worthless is actually wrong!

Try and keep in mind that Christ is our goal, not any dream wardrobe or ‘perfect face’.

Peer pressure may be hard at times too, but ultimately the way man sees is different to how God sees – and how He views us is what we should really be worried about. 1 Samuel 16:7 says, “The Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Isn’t that amazing!

God is certainly not superficial in any way – rather, He wants us to have hearts that are holy and honouring to Him.

Don’t you think it’s contrary to God’s perfect attitude and superficial to think about what we look like for an unhealthy amount of time?

Let’s put it like this: For me, when I’m thinking about my outward appearance – in front of a mirror or choosing my outfit for the day are classic examples – it’s pretty much a definite that I’m directing my thoughts away from God.

This is both unbiblical and unhelpful! As Christian young women, we’ve got to remember to go about our daily lives in everything – be it in makeup or anything else – bringing Jesus with us.

What does this mean practically?

Well, something slightly different for each girl, I believe. Some people agree with makeup, some don’t, but as the Bible is not prescriptive about whether or not to wear makeup, I think it’s up to the individual to apply as they see fit, according to scripture.

This is not a licence to apply our own standards under the banner of ‘having our own reading of the bible’. In fact, it’s quite the opposite! As we apply God’s standards in our lives, it will definitely become more evident for all of us that this way is a way of self-denial.

Yuk. Sounds horrible, doesn’t it?

It does to me, but that’s because I still have a sinful nature which is always trying to tell me that “my way is the best way”. But it’s simply not true. God “knows His plans for you” (Jeremiah 29:11), and they’re far better than any human can think up.

He knows the future, gal.

Last but by no means less common are the Unsures. This third group is formed of people that either wear or do not wear makeup because they have no opinions on it.

And for the most part, I’ve seen that people in this group are prone to being rather ill-informed on the topic. They can also be purely confused as to the opinions they have formed due to what they have heard, read or watched. So, for those that find themselves in this category, let’s try and dig into a bit of Scripture to discover God’s way.

1 Peter 3:15 says that we should “always have a reason for the hope that is in us”. This is intended primarily towards the truths of the gospel and how we should be ready at all times to give a defence of the same to non-believers. But as the “hope” that is in us links to our Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ, surely this verse underpins every aspect of our Christian walk! We are members of the body of Christ, and as such, we have a duty to be well informed as to our reasons for opinions.

What if you are an Unsure and you don’t know how to go about forming your opinions?

Well, rather than automatically putting on makeup without thinking, perhaps take a break to ask yourself why you actually wear it. Is it a must?

Remember, if you choose to wear makeup, it should be for enhancing and not to change the vessel that Christ has crafted.

However, there is also the people that we meet to think about. These people can be affected by the message that we send by what we wear, how much we wear and how we wear it.

I recognise that this can be a tad sensitive as a topic area, as all of us have a habit of being selfish when it comes to putting others before themselves. But as I pose this point, I hope you’ll see how crucial it is.

Take eyeliner and -shadow, for example. Is it seriously necessary to wear a thick layer of either of these alongside mascara?

As a pair, eyeliner and eyeshadow can put forward different messages, according to how they are worn. Indeed, if the wearer chooses to wear them so, they can cause a gothic or emo mood to form, which can be less-than-helpful for a Christian!

We are “children of light” (1 Thessalonians 5:5), and if we put forward an image of someone who is misogynistic or self-hating (which is essentially what emo and gothic styles do), surely that is creating a persona of someone who is “of the darkness”, just as Paul says Christians are not to be? No, this isn’t me trashing all eyeliner and eye-shadow as evil…rather, it’s a caution against makeup styles that form a negative image.

Taking it from another perspective, it can be equally possible, via makeup, to put forward a provocative message. Think of the effect deep eye-makeup coupled with crimson lips could bring – and will bring if we’re not careful. The chief purpose of unnaturally-coloured eye-shadow and lipstick is to draw attention to the eyes and lips, so do give it a thought whether the makeup you choose is so innocent; or not.

I know what you’re thinking now, not this ‘think about the guys’ thing again! But think of Proverbs 31, if it helps.

I fall short of this so often! I’m too quick to think of myself before others, and I’m sure many of you young Christian women out there often feel the same.

But remember that the joy of the Lord is our strength, and the work of grace in us making us want to live to serve Christ in the first place is all of Him and nothing of ourselves!

And in closing…Please don’t cover up the face that God has given you simply for the point of doing so! God has made your body, it’s glorious, so yet again I ask you to pray to Him for help in using it more to His glory as you live to honour and serve Him.

Why being single ISN’T the end of the world!

This post aims to talk about relationships, which is a huge subject (often complicated and emotional), especially for Christians. As a young man, the issue of being single is one that can play on your mind from time to time, and I hope that this post gives encouragement and helps you on your way.

Being Happy

Do we need to be in a relationship to be happy? A few years ago, I would have said it plays a big role in being happy.  And this is where my first point starts.  You don’t have to be in a ‘relationship’ to be happy; period.  Now, living in a liberal world, it feels as though if we are not in a sexual relationship, there’s something wrong with us. Everything in society is geared towards a sexual relationship.  Our identities are formed by our sexual lives, rather by who we actually are. As Christians we need to be different from the world, and therefore in relationships, as well as in the rest of life, we have to show this difference!

Biblical perspective

The Bible speaks a lot about relationships, and tells us that being single is a gift from God (1 Cor. 7:8), that some of us are called to live single lives (Matt. 19:10-12 & 1 Cor. 7:38), which could be for a short while, or it could be for the rest of our lives. Being single is by no mean a curse!  You can do so much more, especially when it comes to helping spread the Gospel message.  We are not tied to anything and we can put so much more energy into our evangelism.  I have come to know a lot more peace than I ever did at university.  I have come to understand that God is sovereign over all, and he knows what is best for me.  I now realise that the world is wrong: being in a ‘relationship’ isn’t the be all and end all, but it took me a little while to figure it out.

Singleness is a gift. You don’t have to spend loads of money on a significant other; you don’t have to worry about forgetting their birthday, making the right impression. You can just be you, serving God with all your might (1 Cor. 7:33-35).  Don’t worry about what the world think!  Focus on the kingdom and see what God will do in your life.  Do not fret, do not worry, pray to God, and trust in him!  We already have a relationship with our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, we need nothing else!  Remember how close he is to you, how much he loves you and that he is everything to you!  Anything else in life is a bonus!

Patience is a valuable virtue

Brothers and sisters do not rush into a relationship, I did and it was a mess. I have never felt further away from God, my conscience was telling me it was wrong, that God didn’t approve. I tried to suppress the feeling, but it got worse and worse.  Take time, take everything to the Lord in prayer and listen to what He tells you.

This can be related to the question; do we have to date a fellow Christian?  For young people, the answer may not be what they want to hear, but I think the best way to answer this is that it is best for your spiritual soul if you do. “Do not be unequally yoked,” (2 Cor. 6:14-7:1).  You have someone to share your faith with, whom you can pray with and whom properly understands the Christian life.  This is vitally important for our spiritual well-being and our spouses.

Dear friends, be patient. God knows the future, he is in and out of time, and he guides us in the way we should go (Psalm 119:105 & Proverbs 16:9).  He knows what lies ahead of us, and that goes for relationships too.  There is no need to rush, to worry about this.  He has it all in his more than capable hands.  Trust in the lord, and see what he will do in your life.   I can imagine quite a few of us young folk, look around our churches, noting that there are no young females or males, wondering if you will ever be in a relationship.  Don’t worry, God is in control!  He might have someone lined up for you in the future, in some other location, he may bring someone into the church, he may never bring someone into your life, but that’s great!  He knows what’s best, and as long as we follow him, and not go our own way, we will be blessed.

At the same time, we shouldn’t be painting an ideal image of a life-partner. If we did, then I would be waiting for a God-fearing historian, who loved Skillet, loved football, voted Conservative (I seem to have more enjoyable conversations with those on the right at the moment, weirdly enough!), was smart, funny and above all focused her life entirely on Christ.  Now for most of those ideals, I have to realise that they are selfish and to be honest, rather unrealistic.  The only ideal point we should ever want in a spouse is that they love Christ first and foremost.  Of course spouses have to connect and share interests, but Christ and the gospel should always be our number one passion, interest and priority. If we share Him, we share everything.

Dating sites and ‘flirting’

So what about Christian dating sites and apps, is it OK to use them? I do think we have to be careful when we use websites to find someone.  You do not know the person at all, and have no idea if they truly are a Christian.  It can be very dangerous, I wouldn’t use them, personally, at all. But I do understand that for some people, being on these sites gives them some comfort, but it’s important to question our heart motives – are we serving God or ourselves?  So before you go anywhere near a dating website, ask God for guidance, consider the pros and cons, and whether it will actually be beneficial for you.

Now, I wish to briefly consider flirting. Is it OK? Now this all depends on what you mean by the word.  If you like a girl, you are undoubtedly going to have a bit of banter and say some stupid things, I know I have said some really daft stuff before, where you’re trying to be funny or intelligent, but in fact you look like an idiot (!), but you shouldn’t be flirting in a sexual or even vaguely suggestive manner (1 Thess. 5:22).  That is completely wrong.

Is it OK to be romantic? Well I hope so; I’m often called a hopeless romantic by my family!  Sometimes I feel that as we are not of the world, therefore we have to be emotionally dead.   Our services are emotionally dead.  But we should thank God for emotions, for joy, for laughter but also for sorrow as it allows us to express ourselves in a way words cannot.  Therefore, there is nothing wrong about being romantic.

I have been in relationships at university and in all seriousness, I realise that it was not the right time for me to be in a relationship, and as time goes on and on, I see that that still have much to learn. One day perhaps, but for now, I’m content in prayer and in the company of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Concluding thoughts

Finally to those who are reading this, who are already in a relationship, then remember to always keep the Lord in your heart and that you honour Him first, well above your spouse. Relationships, and especially marriage are gifts from God, and we thank him for them, but so too in singleness!

Remember friends, unlike the world, we search for a life-partner, not something to amuse us for a little while, so to speak. Our ultimate goal in a relationship is to marry; of course this doesn’t mean that if you date someone that they will be your married partner! Look around you in the church, take inspiration from those who are married, and listen to their advice without judging.  Let it be a blessing to you. Marriage can be an immense blessing.

So to conclude! Don’t rush, Don’t panic, Don’t worry!  Make sure you flee from sin (be like Joseph, run!!), from the desires of the flesh, and run to Christ.  Make sure that you don’t fall into the same mistakes I, and many others have.  I do recommend that as a Christian, you find yourself a fellow Christian to date. Above all, put your faith in Jesus, seek first the Kingdom of God, and let your heart put him as your no.1.  God is good, God is great, God is love, and he is amazing.  Rejoice that you have a friend like no one else; you have a love that no unbeliever has.  You have Jesus! Amen!