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Archive for October, 2011

A couple links to make you smile (and cry too, but in a good way)!

Hey everybody! Thanks for stopping in and seeing what’s new!

 

I have been meaning to share something with you all for a while, but I haven’t really gotten around to doing it. Well that stops today. One day, about two years ago, I was surfing through the internet when I stumbled upon a website that has really inspired me and given me ideas for how I can show appreciation and love to others. The site is HelpOthers.org go ahead and click on the link to be brought to the website.

It’s a really great website because it shares inspiring stories about people helping other people. They also have a wonderful program with Smile Cards that you can give out to others when you do a random act of kindness. These things are amazing! I just put in an order for some to be mailed to me, and I can’t wait to use them! Oh, and if you sign up with the website and post comments, ideas and whatnot, you can get Karma points which you can then use to get cool stuff (like smile cards).

I am going to warn you about this website. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT try to read just one story. It can’t be done. After you read one you want to read them all, and there are a LOT of stories on there. So carve out a good hour or two, find a couple spare boxes of tissues, lock the door, and be prepared to be moved and inspired!

Another really cool website, that my brother got me hooked on is Post Secret. Every day, hundreds of people all over the world send postcards with their secrets to Frank Warren and he puts several of them on the website each week to share the secrets. No one knows who sent the secrets, but the sender and the readers get something out of it because they are sharing each others secrets. This is definitely another website that will probably make you cry. Some of the secrets are really heart breaking.

But they can also be so amazingly supportive. In one of his “Post Secret Live” Events that I was able to attend, Frank shared a wonderful story with the audience. He said that one day someone sent a postcard with a picture on it of a door with a huge hole punched through with the story that the door had been punched in when a mother had tried to continue beating the sender of the postcard. Minutes after being posted on the website, Frank’s e-mail was flooded with hundreds of similar stories and photos. Because that person was brave enough to share that secret, hundreds of others suddenly knew that they were not alone.

I’m actually crying my eyes out just remembering that story. Frank and some of his associates offer several of these events each year all across the nation, so if you’re able to make it to one of them, I highly recommend it. The stories will touch you, and knowing that others are going through the same problems will help you to come to terms with your own secrets. It may even compel you to share one.

Finally, I want to share with you a commercial that one of my professors shared with us here. It’s a truly amazing piece, and I agree with her that it’ll have you guessing what it’s about until the end. You can find it here.

That’s all I have to share right now. Please enjoy the websites and commercial. And please, I BEG OF YOU! If you have any great websites, movies, or whatever that you think I, or others reading this might like, PLEASE share them in the comments, facebook message me them, or e-mail them to me at Paul.Johnson1@snc.edu

God Bless!

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Fly the flag

Hello all, thank you so much for taking the time to read this post. Just a note that this post may offend some readers. I do apologize if this is the case. However I feel that this post may enable others to get to know me better and what I believe in. My goal is not to offend others, but to raise awareness and, hopefully, to bridge some divides in society.

Please know that, while you may or may not agree with this post, there is more to me than this. Disagreeing with this particular aspect of my views should not necessitate a termination of our friendship, our fellowship, and our ability to be care for and love one another. And, as always, I would love to hear your feedback on this post. Please do not feel you have to agree with me to respond. I’d love to hear your voice. Thank you.

Well, with that big disclaimer out of the way, I’d like to talk with/write to you about something a little out of the ordinary for me. I usually stick with theologically based matters, and I hope that you understand that this, too, is theological matter. Still, I recognize that this may seem odd, so please bear with me.

The subject of today’s post is, as you may have guessed by the title, a flag. Now, you may be thinking to yourself “why a flag? What’s so important about a piece of cloth strung up on a metal (or wooden) stick?”

To this, I would have to respond by saying that this is not just any flag. This flag is very near and dear to my heart because it represents a part of who I am. This flag unites me with millions of others in the world. This flag is a beacon of hope for those who are being oppressed or on the fringe of society. This flag represents the struggle of so many people who have worked hard to be respected for who and what they are. This flag has been christened with the blood, sweat, and tears of many who have stood for what it represents. This flag is more than just a piece of cloth. This flag is a symbol. A unifying force. This flag is hope.

Yet there are people out there, people in today’s world, who reject this flag and what it stands for. They reject the flag bearers and wish to destroy this symbol. People wish to fight against what this flag represents. They disagree with the message portrayed in the flying of this flag. They wish to crush what it stands for. They wish to wipe out it’s very memory. It’s existence.

This flag is so much more than a piece of cloth. This flag has been raised in victory, draped over the bodies of people who died defending it. This flag has flown across this nation in parades, has been proudly displayed in shop windows and peoples’ homes. This flag has joined so many together to fight for what they feel is right. What is just.

And yet this flag is not all-powerful. This flag has raised opposition. It has been the catalyst for fights, legislation disputes, even the death of others. This flag has been burned and trampled on, spat upon and torn. It has been misused by some. It’s meaning has been skewed to justify horrific acts. It has been used for good, and for bad. This flag is not all-powerful.

This flag makes many choose sides. It causes people to talk, to debate its supporters and what they stand for. This flag has been used for crime and for peace. It has been discussed in churches, synagogues, schools, courtrooms, dining rooms and family rooms. This flag has sparked the curiosity of others.What this flag stands for has the ability to unify the people or to divide them. This flag is complex.

This…

flag…

may not have been what you were thinking about at all.

Which flag am I talking about? The answer is “Yes.” Both of these flags have a story. Both can teach us many things. Both are symbols of hope for some, and symbols of corruption for others. They are very different in some ways, and yet very similar in others. Which side to you stand on? Do you see both as good, one, or none? Do you have mixed feelings? It’s okay not to know how to feel. The important thing to remember is that there are people out there that support these flags. Some support one and not the other, some support both, and some reject both. Where do you stand?

Think about what it means to support either of these flags. Try to put God’s love at the center of your life as you think about this. Remember that there are people out there, children of God like you and me, that believe in what one of or both of these flags represent.

As always, God Bless!

Not happy with a tiny island…

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Hey there! This post is inspired by the awesomeness that is the Religion, Anthropology and the Human World discussion group! I wasn’t too sure how well a three hour discussion was going to go at first. I mean, come on! Three hours? That’s waaaaaay too long to discuss something, right? And having Dr. Duane Priebe sitting in? He’s going to shoot down everything we say, right? Right?

Wrong! It turns out that we could have used a lot more time on each of the subjects we covered than three hours. Heck, we could probably be actively discussing them for a week, a month, maybe a whole lifetime without exhausting all the ideas mentioned in the group.When I first visited here in 2010, I learned of a group of people that discuss the same bible verse before every meeting in order to organize their thoughts and get their juices flowing. At that time I wondered how they could keep going with the same verse each day. Now I wonder how they ever manage to switch to something else.

It’s like Houston Smith said in his book on world religions “As known unknowns become known, unknown unknowns proliferate; the larger the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of wonder.” Now at first this may seem like pure gobbledygook to you, but I assure you it makes sense. What I believe he’s saying here is that growing in your understanding of something doesn’t limit the amount of knowledge left to be learned, but opens your eyes to even more things to be discovered. That island he’s talking about just keeps growing, and each time it does, you realize there’s even more ocean out there.

Maybe this is why close-minded individuals can be so quick to shut other people out of their conversations. They only have enough room on their island for one person. They can’t be going around sharing it with other people. But when you do try to do this, you quickly understand that there’s a little peninsula over here, and a sand bar over there leading to another person’s island. Pretty soon that tiny island becomes a continent. Then you realize there are other continents as well, and then other planets, then other solar systems, other galaxies… the expansion can go on and on.

And then I think of love. yeah, I know. shifting from galaxies to love may seem like a bit of a stretch, but expand your island of understanding a bit and I think you’ll see mine in the distance. I think love is just like this island thing. It’s just like knowledge. The more we share it, the more we realize is out there. Well, that’s not exactly true. I mean, we’re only human. Our love has its limits.

But God’s love is truly limitless. Psalm 23 reminds us of this in the phrase “my cup overflows.” God’s love for us has no limits except for the ones WE place on it. It’s just like the island of knowledge. The more we understand and know God’s love, the more we realize that there’s more out there. Think God can’t love a sinner? Think again! Think God hates your enemies because you do? Wrong!

But there’s something that I think some people forget about at times. That cup of love? God wants us to share it. With our neighbors, our friends, our enemies, our frenemies… Everyone we meet. Don’t worry about the cup running dry, because every time we pour out that love to someone else, God’s already filled it up again.

Not sure how to share that love? Try a smile. I’m sure you’ve heard they’re contagious. Well lets start an epidemic! As always, God Bless!

Inspired by Tami

Hello, everyone!

I don’t have much time these days, but I wanted to write something quick and say that I am so thankful for everyone who is reading this! As much as I love to tell everyone how my days are going, I feel like I’m not able to hear how things are going with everyone else. And listening is definitely an important part of being a pastor. So I’m going to ask you to help me out in my learning.

One of my classmates, Tami G. inspired this idea on her facebook account. She has asked for how she can pray for others. So I’m going to try it as well. Let me know, either by commenting on here or sending me an e-mail at Paul.johnson1@snc.edu. I would suggest, however, that you post it on here if it isn’t too personal so that others can pray for you as well.

Ff you think you don’t have anything to pray for, then it’s time for some soul searching. Because we can all use a little prayer in our lives. And don’t think that you’re too late to do this if you don’t see this post right away. I plan on doing this on a regular basis, and I’d love to hear more prayer requests a week from now, a month from now, whenever! So let me know how I can pray for you! I look forward to the responses!

As always, God Bless!