Monday, February 13, 2012

Lessons from Katie Davis

I am much more terrified of living a comfortable life in a self-serving society and failing to follow Jesus than I am of any illness or tragedy.
Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis, pg. XIX

While the Bible doesn't tell every person on earth specifically what his or her life's calling will be, it does include a lot of general direction:
"You are to find me in the least of these." Yes.
"You are to leave your earthly possessions and come follow me." Yes.
"You are to love and serve the Lord God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself." Yes.
"You are to go and make disciples of all nations." Yes.
"You are to entertains strangers and lepers and tax collectors." Yes.
"You are to show mercy." Yes.
"You are to live a life of mediocrity and abundance, holding on tight to your comfortable lifestyle, lest you lose it." No.
Kisses From Katie by Katie Davis, pg. 100

One of the questions that surprised me most was this: "Mommy, if Jesus comes
to live inside my heart, will I explode?"
"No!" I proclaimed as the children and I headed to the Nile River for a few of them to be baptized that day.
Then I thought about the question a bit more.
"Yes, if Jesus comes to live in your heart, you will explode." That is exactly what we should do if Jesus comes to live inside our hearts. We will explode with love, with
compassion, with hurt for those who are hurting, and with joy for those who rejoice. We will explode with a desire to be more, to be better, to be close to the One who made us.
Kisses From Katie by Katie Davis, pg. 108
Simply put, it's not about us. Though we each have a distinct and important role, we are not the main characters. Our purpose is less about us than we think it is. Our impact is much greater than we imagine it to be. We have free will to do what we want to a certain extent, but we also have the choice to give ourselves to one of God's crazy-awesome plans that end up being better than anything humanly conceivable. None of this stuff around us matters, for it will all disappear one day, whether death comes first or not. Possessions don't last, and it's just not worth it to base your worth on them. Love burns like a blazing fire, like a mighty flame (Song of Solomon 8:6b), and love endures all things (1 Corinthians 13:7). I want to "explode with love, with compassion, with hurt for those who are hurting, and with joy for those who rejoice" like Katie Davis says above. I don't want to be satisfied and comfortable with complacency. May we dare to rise above the status quo.

To learn more about Katie Davis and Amazima Ministries, visit and

Thursday, February 9, 2012

What I gathered from Hitchens's death

So, this is a little late in coming, but better late than never I suppose.

I have given much thought, research, and time to the--what is the best word?--aura surrounding Christopher Hitchens's death. Many Christians were praying and even after his death continued to pray that Hitchens would acknowledge Jesus' gift of eternal salvation at the end of his life, thereby avoiding an eternal afterlife in Hell. Many atheists were scolding the Christians and proclaiming that Hitchens died having done what he wanted to in life, with beliefs that he valued (namely atheism), and therefore can't all these Christians just leave the man alone? Besides, even if there is a (contested) afterlife, he chose his afterlife and is happy with it.

I understand both claims being made, both undercurrents, both statements, both beliefs. I just have a rhetorical question to make:

We assume, based on what we know from Hitchens in the press and from what he specifically chooses to place in writing, that he was a happy person and died as such. My question is a two-part one. Firstly, was he really happy? If the answer is yes, which I do not doubt, then why was he happy? In other words, what things/people/places/ideas did he place value on and gain happiness from?

What makes YOU, reader, happy?

Examples of things that can make people happy: having nice things (house, car, etc.), traveling the world, playing with or taking care of animals, caring for children, learning, helping make policies that will affect the world in a good way, relationships with people (family, friends, spouse), good food and drink, music, sports...the list goes on and on, but these are just a few examples from off the top of my head. Personally, mine is relationships with people.

The issue many people seem to be tiptoeing around: What does the afterlife look like? Also, is there an afterlife?

The answer to the latter question is either yes or no, and it depends on your beliefs. If you believe that this life is all that there is, and when we die we just go -poof- and stop thinking and that's it and there will never be any more of you except what others remember or write down, then your answer to "is there an afterlife" is no. If you are not 100% sure of that (which, to be quite frank, I don't know that anyone is 100% certain that this life is all that there is, and you can correct me if I'm mistaken), then you're faced with the first issue, which is what the afterlife looks like.

Again, depending on what you believe, your response to this question will vary. And we can look at and debate this issue for hours, and I would be glad to (because somewhere in this issue the whole question of a Creator/God is brought up, whether there is one, etc.).

I would like to look at one aspect of the issue which strikes me heaviest, which you may or may not deem to my own personal bias. Assuming a Creator God (which the three major monotheistic religions of the world do), what is he to do with someone who for his whole life has not wanted anything to do with Himself? Well, obviously, you don't bring him to Heaven to live with you, because that would be Hell for the person who went all his life without wanting anything to do with God. We're assuming that this person still wants nothing to do with God and says he is happy without Him. What do you do with this person? A loving God would put that person where that person wants to be, which is as far away from God as possible.

We give that place a name, which is Hell.

Normally the term evokes images of boiling lava pits and fiery monsters or whatever. I will not go there, because honestly I don't think that's what Hell is, and that's not what I have read it to be anywhere. Hell, when it comes down to it, is basically that place God's love does not touch. Seems reasonable and perfectly fine: If you want nothing to do with God, what does it matter?

But here we go back to my initial question towards you, reader: What makes you happy? Because physical possessions do not go with you after death, no matter if you believe in an afterlife. And assuming you believe in an afterlife, if less physical things like relationships with people are what make you happy, such things are at stake here. Because if your relationships were what kept you happy in life, and all of a sudden you lose them (because they died, or you died, or they wanted to be with God and you did not, or vice versa), I don't think you'd still consider yourself happy. Honestly, would you be? I'm not faulting you if you say that you'd still be happy even without your loved ones. I just want to make sure you know exactly what your beliefs entail.

"Well, Ashley, all of my friends and I want nothing to do with God, so we're all going to Hell together, and we'll have a party." Okay. Just remember that Hell is the place God's love does not touch. If God is the source of love, though, are you still going to be able to love your friends even with their faults? Because if we do derive love and forgiveness from God, and if that is nonexistent in Hell...I mean, I know I'm biased like anyone, but I really don't think you'd be able to maintain friendships the same way in Hell without love, as on Earth or that could be made in Heaven with love. Also remember that everyone else who doesn't want to have anything to do with God chooses an afterlife without God, too, and you're not necessarily going to get along with them. In fact, many of them may choose to hurt you, and that may be why they chose to not want to have anything to do with God.

I think if Hitchens was perfectly happy before, and there is an afterlife, he may not be so happy anymore. And that saddens me, because I like when people are happy.

I realize that this is only one side of a many-faceted issue, definitely one that I need to research more and one that has a lot more depth to it. But this is my blog, after all. This is currently how I feel about this issue. I tried sharing all of this as carefully as I could with the time frame I wrote this in, but I realize a lot of it may sound harsh. And I know I make assumptions, but hear me when I say that I do so for the sake of looking at a side of this dilemma that truly is possible, an outcome that may exist, something we should take seriously. Frankly, we lose nothing if there's no afterlife. But what if?

I have strong faith beliefs, and my faith is based off more than just the hope that there is a Heaven, therefore writing the previous two sentences was difficult for me because it make what I believe seem like a safety net. My intent, however, was that you, dear reader, would understand that when there is no possible way to obtain scientific evidence for something one way or another, caution should be taken about what you choose to believe.