Monday, March 29, 2010
Monday, March 22, 2010
Saturday, March 20, 2010
In the strife of Truth with Falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, God’s new Messiah, offering each the bloom or blight,
Parts the goats upon the left hand, and the sheep upon the right,
And the choice goes by forever, ‘twixt that darkness and that light.
Hast thou chosen, O my people, on whose party thou shalt stand,
Ere the Doom from its worn sandals shakes the dust against our land?
Though the cause of Evil prosper, yet ‘tis Truth alone is strong,
And, albeit she wander outcast now, I see around her throng
Troops of beautiful, tall angels, to enshield her from all wrong.
Careless seems the great Avenger; history’s pages but record
One death-grapple in the darkness ‘twixt old system and the Word;
Truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne-
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own.
Then to side with Truth is noble when we share her wretched crust,
Ere her cause bring fame and profit, and ‘tis prosperous to be just;
Then it is the brave man chooses, while the coward stands aside,
Doubting in his abject spirit, till his Lord is crucified,
And the multitude make virtue of the faith they had denied.
Once to every man and nation,
Comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of Truth with Falsehood,
For the good or evil side,
Some great cause,
Some great decision,
Off’ring each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever,
Twixt that darkness and that light.
Then to side with truth is noble,
When we share her wretched crust
Ere her cause bring fame and profit,
And `tis prosp`rous to be just;
Then it is the brave man who chooses
While the coward stands aside,
Till the multitude make virtue
Of the faith they had denied.
Though the cause of evil prosper,
Yet the truth alone is strong;
Though her portion be the scaffold,
And upon the throne be wrong,
Yet that scaffold sways the future,
And, behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow,
Keeping watch above His own.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. John 17:3
That is one reason why we need to spend time with other Christians... especially those who are farther along than we are: to remind us of our goal, our aim, what is ahead of us. This is also why spending time in God's Word is so important. We need to remember what our life here is about, so that we can truly live.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Since that time I have loved words – their sound, their meaning, how they fit together and become something more than themselves. I was the two-year-old making my mom write down what happened when we went on a walk that day. I was the eleven-year-old who took a week (maybe two) to read Lord of the Rings. I am now the senior in high school who will read three novels in almost as many hours and then explain the plot of all three to anyone who happens to be around. (Usually no one, because I finished the last one at 2am. Too bad.)
I think the reason that I, and everyone else I know, enjoy stories, is because it is how we were created – to know that there is an Author with a plot for our lives. Story-telling is an unsurpassed approach to sharing truth. Although some people may not recognize the importance of telling stories or doubt their own ability to tell a story, it is one of the easiest ways to communicate with others. We remember what we learn through stories, and they can be used to illustrate and explain difficult subjects. God Himself speaks to us through stories in the Bible. A skill that almost everyone can learn, story-telling is a way that we can glorify God. Even simple stories can teach and bless others.
Those who hear a story will remember it much better than those who hear an explanation of facts or theories. I have learned a great number of historical dates and facts and eventually forgotten them. What I remember about history are things like Ethan Allan waking the British commander and announcing that the fort was surrounded, or Teddy Roosevelt learning to be a cowboy and losing his glasses, because these were part of a story. I had to read Across Five Aprils before I could remember the dates of the Civil War.
Not only are stories memorable, they can be used to illustrate intangible things. My mom once used a story about a little boy and his neighbor’s dog to explain false positives and true negatives in a statistics class. It helped her learn it, and she got an A. Any message can be part of a story, but the story itself needs to stand alone. A book by one of my favorite authors, Regina Doman, deals with homosexuality. Knowing people who struggled with that issue, she determined to give them a tool with which to fight it. She didn’t write an essay on “The Bible Says Homosexuality is bad”. She wrote a novel about a young Catholic man who doubted himself, doubted his manhood, and learned not to doubt his God. The book never preached; it simply told the story of a boy following after God who, though wounded by the evil of the world, was willing to fight for the God who called him. It was beautiful.
Stories can also make difficult concepts easier to understand. This is why Jesus taught in parables. To those who hated Him, they were merely foolish stories. To his disciples, however, they explained the truths of God’s kingdom. Jesus Christ used stories to illustrate truths because it worked. Had He merely said, “Even though you have rejected God and a relationship with Him, He still loves you and wants you to come back to Him,” would we have understood it quite so well? Instead, we have the well-known story of the Prodigal Son to help us see our need and God’s forgiveness. King David was able to see his sin only after a prophet explained his adultery using a story about a little lamb. Throughout both the Old and New Testaments, our Creator teaches us through stories, which suggests that we learn better with stories.
It is easier to share truth with stories as well, because stories are so effective and influential. Because of this, stories surround us, and every day we are bombarded with the stories in movies, books, and magazines, and on the radio, TV, and internet. Advertisers, lobbyists, advocates, and even lawyers use stories to make their point. Psychological studies have shown that when people’s emotions are engaged, as in a story, their behavior changes more than when they are simply given information or data. A story can affect those who hear it long after it is over.
Because stories are so effective and their messages can often be subtle, some people object to them. Recently I got some new novels from the library. They were exciting and even brilliantly written, but after breathlessly finishing them, I realized that the main characters were pantheistic lying thieves. In the context of the story they were also delightfully kind and funny. Stories like these do not show a Biblical view of the world; however, even from them I was able to learn things that helped me understand others and could benefit me as a Christian. As long as we are aware that others often wish to influence us with their stories, we will not be as vulnerable to any negative influences in them.
Certain people feel that they cannot tell stories because they are not gifted story-tellers. However, novel-writing has been called a craft instead of an art. As a craft, it can be learned, and I think the same goes for story-telling. The stories can be simple. The other day I told someone about Kim Meeder and how she and her husband created Crystal Peaks Ranch out of an old open pit mine, a bunch of half dead trees that they got for free, and a herd of abused horses. Today their ranch is a haven where, as their website says, “broken children, horses, and families could find hope within the healing circle of unconditional love.” When I finished, he looked at me and said, “That just made my whole day, hearing about something like that.” Just telling about a small answer to prayer could help another person more than one might imagine. It does not need to take much thought or preparation. Nor do the stories need an obvious moral or point. In fact, it is better if they do not, since no one likes to be “preached at”, even through stories.
Of course, it is true that when and how stories are told is important. Those who object to story-telling probably have someone in the back of their mind who feels obligated to pull out, “When I was in graduate school…” every time they think of it. This is a misuse of storytelling, though, not a reason to dislike it. It is possible to learn to incorporate stories into conversations in a fun and interesting way.
Certain people might think other methods of communicating truth more important. This is true in some circumstances. There is a time and a place for everything, and sometimes there is nothing appropriate to say, let alone a story that needs to be told. Stories can, however, be used in most situations.
Besides the fact that there are certain ways and times for story-telling, it is also true that some people love stories more than others. This does not mean, however, that stories are not useful for all kinds of people. There are audiences for both O. Henry and for Leo Tolstoy. Those who are “cut-to-the-point” type of people can simply use a different technique. Even those who appreciate using statistics and graphs when learning can still benefit from stories. In fact, I have seen news article entitled “Every Graph Tells a Story” and “How to Tell a Story with Your Data.” A well placed story can help anyone.
When properly used, story-telling has been shown to make an effective impression on listeners. Telling stories is the perfect way to communicate truth in a memorable, uncomplicated, and easy-to-learn way. Story-telling is a craft that almost everyone can learn, and even the simplest of stories can brighten someone’s day. Many people are telling stories the way they see the world, with chaos and evil exalted. We can counter this by taking people’s love for stories and showing them how God meant it to be used. Simply by using stories in our conversations with others, we can share what God has been teaching us, explain what He has done for us, and encourage people in their walk with Him, communicating truth in the best of ways.
Yes, that was long. And yes, it was an essay I wrote for school. And, to be perfectly honest, I was more like 8 months old when I broke my head. But I had fun writing it and needed something to post, so.... ;D If you actually read it all and have any thoughts on story-telling, please let me know! :)
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Friday, March 5, 2010
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.