Posted by: funwiththesqualies | April 9, 2010

Joshua 1:9

“This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” ~ Joshua 1:8

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Posted by: funwiththesqualies | August 18, 2009

The Borrowers… all of us

After an extended leave of absence, I’ve actually returned to updating this blog. Hopefully I can be more diligent and keep it up; I guess we’ll see? With that in mind, it would make sense for me to do a blog post about diligence; however, it is not to be. Today, I am thinking of a different subject: ownership.

Have you ever lent a possession to a friend? I’m sure you have. In fact you probably have a sort of mental rap sheet for each of your acquaintances – how often they ask to borrow something, how long it takes them to return it, and so on. We all know some people who are slow at returning things; their houses might as well be black holes to toss items into, never to be seen ever again, until one day long after they’ve forgotten it’s yours they offer to let you borrow it.

Okay, so perhaps I exaggerate slightly, but you catch my drift. Or do you? Let me assure you right now, this isn’t some underhanded attempt to remind one of you out there to return that movie I lent you. That’s the furthest thing from my mind, so relax; I have an entirely different agenda here. While we’re on the subject, though, I would like it back by next Friday, please. (Just kidding!)

What’s my point? It’s a simple one, yet amazingly profound. Often overlooked, yet one of the most fundamental facts of existence. I got to thinking the other day, and was suddenly struck by the magnitude of the idea that my life, my world, my entire existence belongs to God. It’s not like I never knew that before, I think most of us do; but in that moment I was blown away by the reality of it.

I thought of all the things I had done for Him, sacrifices I had made on His behalf. Small missions trips here, spreading the gospel there, going to church every week, helping out at a VBS, CI, Awana or similar program, etc. All of these things seem like righteous and holy endeavors by themselves; but in the light of truth, they’re significantly less impressive. It’s as though God has ‘lent’ me this life on earth, and I turn around every now and then and say, “Hey, would you like to borrow me for a few days?” Perhaps this is the mindset Isaiah had reached when he wrote “All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” – Isaiah 64:6.

It occurred to me that God has at least three distinct claims to ownership of my life. Probably more, but my limited intelligence only reminded me of three. They are as follows:

  1. He is our Creator. (Genesis 1:27, John 1:3, Isaiah 45:12) Next time you see a five year old playing with Play-Do, try taking their creation away from them. I guarantee you they’ll say, “Give it back, it’s mine, I made it!” (Okay, ‘guarantee’ is a strong word, but you get my drift.) They feel it is theirs because they created it, and rightly so. How much more does God, who created us out of nothing, deserve the right to call us His own?
  2. He is the Judge. (Romans 6:23, Psalm 50:6, James 4:12)God is the judge and the lawmaker, and all humans have broken His laws. Our lives, spirits, and eternal destinies are literally in His hands, since He is the supreme Judge of the world.
  3. He is my Redeemer. (John 1:29, John 3:16, Romans 6:23)The easiest way to prove ownership of an item is to show that you paid for it. Jesus has two receipts, one on each wrist, to show He paid for us with His own . We deserve God’s eternal wrath, but Jesus paid that fine for us; those of us who accept Him as our savior belong to Him as a bond-servant forever.

We all ‘borrow’ life from God every day. Often times Christians council those going through hard times by saying God has a plan, and it will all work out for good, we just can’t see it all yet. While this is true and for the most part biblical (Romans 8:28), we should also come to realize that every breath we take is a mercy we don’t deserve; God owes us nothing and we owe Him a great deal. This sobering truth helps us learn contentment, thanking Him for all He has given us rather than complaining about trials and tribulations. There is a difference between contentment and satisfaction – but that’s another Post. 😀

So like I said, this isn’t some profound special revelation that no one has ever noticed before; nor is it a sample of lucid theological reasoning that comes only from ordained ministers who graduate seminary. It’s a basic idea: God is the owner of our lives. However we don’t think about it often enough – at least I don’t. He deserves more than a few days of dedicated service now and then; He deserves loyal devotion, every second of every day of every week. So take this as an exhortation and encouragement from me, to live our lives for Him.

Posted by: funwiththesqualies | April 13, 2009

Avoiding Zoar

I was reading in Genesis today, through parts of chapters 17, 18, and 19. There are lots of great lessons to be learned from that passage; Abraham meeting with the LORD (which is the basis for Doug Small’s excellent sermon ‘Entertaining God’), Abraham interceding on behalf of the righteous in Sodom, God promising to give Abraham and Sarah a son, and also the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. A few verses stood out to me in particular today; a section of dialogue between Lot and the angel after the angel told Lot to leave Sodom and head into the mountains. Genesis 19:19 – 20 reads as follows: “…I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die: Behold now, this city is near to flee unto, and it is a little one: Oh, let me escape thither, (is it not a little one?) and my sould shall live.”

So, what is Lot trying to do here? God gave him a direct order to leave the plain and take refuge in the mountain, but Lot is trying to compromise. He is willing to obey God and leave Sodom, but he won’t go so far as the mountain. I find it almost comical how he tries to justify himself twice by saying ‘it’s just a little one’.  We find out later in the verse that the city is named Zoar. Now, what happens next is interesting. Lot is allowed his compromise, and he heads to Zoar, which he assumes is ‘safer’ than the mountain. Yet, this is what we find by verse 30 of the same chapter: “And Lot went up out of Zoar, and dwelt in the mountain, and his two daughters with him; for he feared to dwell in Zoar: and he dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters.”

What’s this??? The very place that Lot had insisted would be safe is now so dangerous that Lot is fleeing to the comparative safety of a mountain cave!!! What a clear example of how our own wisdom is folly in comparison to God’s. I hope I remember daily that it is safer to be in the mountain where God leads than to dwell in the Zoar of our own compromises, no matter how ‘little’ they may be.

Proverbs tells us over and over that God’s wisdom is superior to our own. Proverbs 14:12 says quite plainly, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”And chapter 3 verse 5 says tells us to “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” The story of Lot teaches us that it is wise to follow God immediately and completely, and to avoid compromising for Zoar.

Posted by: funwiththesqualies | April 12, 2009

Have A Glorious Resurrection Day!

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The Empty Cross!

We got up this morning rather early (I was up at 5:30, but the others were up before me), and headed to Lockhart Stadium to attend our church’s Sunrise Service. The weather was great; nice and cool, with lots of clouds to keep the sun from getting too hot. Actually, before the sun rose there was quite alot of mist and fog in the air.

After spending the morning rejoicing in Christ’s resurrection, we returned home and Hope had an Egg Hunt; first she hunted for twelve ‘Resurrection Eggs’ which held little objects to teach her lessons about Jesus’ Resurrection, and then she hunted for regular Easter Eggs with candy in them. Oh yeah, us older kids got to feast on a fair amount of jelly beans and candy as well!

So, now for some Squalie trivia, pertaining to Easter Sunday. In Italian, Easter is called ‘Pasqual’, and ‘Pasquale’ is a name that is often given to children born on or near Easter Sunday… I guess it would be like naming someone ‘Easter-Guy!’ or something. Anyway, the Italian prefix ‘Di’ means ‘Of’, so basically our last name means ‘Of Easter-Guy!’ Cool, huh?

Posted by: funwiththesqualies | February 1, 2009

Proverbs

proverbsLately I have been going through a deep study of the book of Proverbs, and I have been truly blessed by the bountiful wisdom I receive from it daily. Well now I am coming to the end of the study, so I’ve decided to share a few “nuggets” that I have found through the study.

Since it was a study of proverbs, I started first with Proverbs 1, and in there I think it’s Proverb 1:6, It says: “To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings.” So what that means is, we are not to just read through the proverbs just to get done with it, so that we can get on with the day, no, we are to take it apart and study each word, and phrase. How are you to take it apart? Well I found that there are three parts of a proverb, and the first part is the Interpretation. If you were to look this word up in the dictionary you would find that it says interpretation means: “an explanation of the meaning of another’s artistic or creative work.” So when we read a proverb, we need to find out the actual explanation/meaning of the proverb by asking the interpreter for insight before you read the proverb, and who is the interpreter? God!

The Second part is words of the wise, it is important to remember that the proverbs are like little cups of wisdom, and every time you read a verse, it is like taking a drink of one of those cups, and you have two choices; one, agree with what it is saying, and swallow, therefore receiving wisdom. Or two disagree with it, spit it out, and miss out on Gods wonderful gift of wisdom.

The last one pretty much ties it in, which is “Dark sayings”. I had a little trouble with this one, because I really didn’t understand what he meant by dark sayings, but then I looked into it closer and I figured that maybe when he says dark sayings, it means the instructions, or the rebukes given to those who are not in the right. So I guess what it is saying is, we are to interpret (Understand) the words of the wise (Encouragement) and the Dark sayings (Rebukes) but this does not only apply in Proverbs, it is also helpful in all the scriptures.

This next one is something I found a few days ago, it was in proverbs 27:22 where it says: “Though you should bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him.” Now if you have ever picked up a grain of wheat, you will soon find that it is hard as rock, if not harder, so it is pretty tough to break up. So when this proverb likens a fool to a hard grain of wheat, they mean hard. If you don’t know what a Mortar and pestle is I will explain it to you. The Pestle is a stick that one uses to grind (Or bray, which basically means to break up) into the bottom of a hard, usually stone; bowl (Mortar). So with that in mind, you can imagine how hard it is to separate a fool from his folly.

Now this last one is something I found this morning (2-01-09), it is Proverbs 29: 25 “The fear of man brings a snare: but whoso put his trust in the Lord shall be safe.” It is important that you do not house the fear of man, for it is like the fangs and jaws of a snake, it will latch on, and inject the poison, and you will be unable to escape.  That is why you must put your trust in the LORD and he will save you. My bible (The Evidence bible) Said as a comment to this verse: “The lie is the poison, Christ is the Antidote.”

Well those were a few of the insights I found during the study of proverbs, it really helped me, and I hope that it helped you. Thank you for reading, and May God bless you!

~ Aaron

Posted by: funwiththesqualies | January 30, 2009

Come Thou Fount

hymnal-012Let’s take a closer look at those thick heavy books that sit under most church pews. Many Christians today pass off Hymns as old and irrelevant, if not completely outdated. I think, however, many of us need to reevaluate their worth. Besides the riches of melodies and soul-soothing harmonies accompanying them, the old hymns also have beautiful lyrics that can enrich our lives much more than most of the contemporary songs of our modern day. Overlooking these treasures would be a terrible mistake.

Probably my favorite hymn of all is a well-known song called “Come Thou Fount.” I’m sure most of you have heard and sung it, as it is still pretty popular even after 250 years of being around – the words were written in 1758 by Robert Robinson, and the music came in 1813 courtesy of John Wyeth. Even though it’s so familiar, though, I still find its lyrics to be particularly uplifting—and worthy of a second look.

come-thou-fount1

John Wyeth and Robert Robinson

The first verse (where the song gets its name from) goes like this: “Come, Thou Fount of every blessing, Tune my heart to sing Thy grace; Streams of mercy, never ceasing, Call for songs of loudest praise. Teach me some melodious sonnet, Sung by flaming tongues above. Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it, Mount of Thy redeeming love.” It is a marvelous way to start the song, calling upon God to tune our hearts to sing His praise. That’s an important concept to remember about praising God; our hearts are required, not just our lips, because God looks past outward appearances to the motives of the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). The verse also illustrates poetically three of the many reasons that we praise God: His blessings, His never-ceasing mercy, and His redeeming love.

The Sign of Christ's Victory

The Sign of Christ's Victory

Moving on to the next verse, we find a proclamation of thanks for all our Savior has already done for all of us. Now, I don’t know about all of you, but I wasn’t sure what an ‘Ebenezer’ was. I had a vague idea, but the real meaning had been lost to me. So, for the sake of this post, I looked it up. It’s really pretty interesting; in 1 Samuel 7:12, right after the people of Israel repented for past sins and God saved them from the Philistines, Samuel placed a stone in a field and called it Ebenezer, saying “Hitherto hath the LORD helped us.” In Hebrew the word means literally “Stone of Help,” and the dictionary defines an Ebenezer, interestingly enough, as a ‘sign of victory’. The hymn writer must have had this definition in mind; we raise our sign of victory because we have been redeemed by Jesus’ sacrifice; by His help we have come this far, and will safely continue to our eternal home.

Now we come to the third verse, by far my favorite, for it verbalizes a plea for forgiveness and a prayer of humility; it is a prayer we all must pray in order to ‘walk in the light as He is in the light’ (1 John 1:7). “O to grace how great a debtor, daily I’m constrained to be! Let Thy goodness, like a fetter; bind my wandering heart to Thee. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love; here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above.”

Now, the final verse I was not so familiar with; it seems most versions omit it, at least most of the ones I’ve sung. It finishes the hymn by reminding us of the future glory to come (1 Peter 1:4). Really, I can’t think of a better way for any song to end than with this theme—the hymn ‘When We See Christ’ deals with this theme throughout all the verses, but as Alton Brown would say, “that’s another show.”

I hope all of you enjoy this hymn as much as I do, and perhaps you have insights that I overlooked! I’d love to hear all of your thoughts. And keep flipping through those Hymnals—they are truly spiritual treasure chests!

—NJ

Posted by: funwiththesqualies | January 29, 2009

Fireproof

It was on January 28 2009, I can remember it like it was yesterday, well it was yesterday. Noah, Julia, and I sat around completely board, after we had finished school, and pretty much everything worth doing had been done. Suddenly the door swung open, well it didn’t literally swing opened… but it did open… anyhow, Faith and Dad walked in. In Faith’s hand was a blue square-shaped object, which had only two words printed on it: ‘New Release’.

This is the Case that I Was Talking About

This is the Case that I Was Talking About

Now filled with vigor only given to those who have just been pulled from the deep despair filled pit of boredom, only to be smacked in the face with a new adventurous mystery, we asked what it was. The answer was “Open it!” So…we did, and inside was a disk, it was the movie Fireproof! The next question asked was rather obvious, “Where did you get it?” We then found out that it came from Publix since they have this movie vending machine thing, and now it was all clear now.

The Movie was really great, we watched it as we ate dinner, and despite the rather numerous interruptions, we were able to finish it. It had a great message throughout the entire movie, and had a couple of laughs a long with it as well. I think that Kirk Cameron did a pretty good job to, I mean he really looked mad! Here are a couple of quotefireproof3s from some random viewers, who we asked the question: “What did you think of the movie last night.”

“Um…It was good,” ~ Julia.

“I liked it,” ~ Noah.

“What move?” ~ Hope.

We are going to start something new with this post, which is the Cannoli rating. What is the Cannoli rating? The Cannoli rating is when we give a movie or product four Cannoli instead of four stars, or three Cannoli instead of three stars. It will also be given in two areas for movies, one being the Quality of the movie, how the actors/actresses did in there acting, believability, and for the Story of the movie, if you felt part of it, and didn’t feel so bored. So for Fireproof we give *drum roll*  Four Cannoli for the Story, and two-and-a-half Cannoli for the Quality.

Posted by: funwiththesqualies | January 27, 2009

Perserverance is ‘Key’

As some of you may know, I (Noah) don’t really play an instrument (as even more of you may no I don’t sing well either, but that’s completely irrelevent to the point of this blog post). What you may not know is that when I was alot younger I took piano lessons for about two years. However I wasn’t very self-motivated in the area, and the curriculum I was using didn’t press me much… so I never got very far and eventually I quit. At the time I didn’t like piano at all, but in recent years I’ve come to really appreciate piano music, probably more than any other instrument. It’s range and versatility are amazing.

So with this new realization of the piano’s amazingness (Oh wow… I can’t believe that’s a real word!), I started to regret that I quit my lessons. I mean, if I had perservered, I could be very skilled by now… so learn a lesson from that, kiddos.

Anyway, I really really really wanted to start again. So, for Christmas my parents bought me a set of 24 DVDs of piano lessons. I wasn’t sure how well DVDs would compare with a real teacher, but really, this program is pretty amazing. I figure I can go as far as I can with them, and then depending on where I am after that I can decide what to do next. I’m really enjoying it, too! I started out only knowing a few of the basics (note names, where they are on the keyboard, and where they are on the music staff, basically) but the DVDs are adding to that knowledge.

"Learn and Master Piano"

"Learn and Master Piano"

Soooo, the next problem needing to be addressed was the fact that our old keyboard did not have a full 88 keys. The answer to this problem came as quite a surprise on January 22 (Hm, that date sounds familiar… oh yeah, my B-day!) My parents surprised me with a new keyboard, with all 88 keys and a whole bunch of other coolio stuff. Now, obviously, this was only partly a birthday present, since it’s really for the whole family to use. I’m not going to stick a sign on it that says “Noah’s Property” or anything like that. But still, it was a cool thing to show up on my birthday.

keyboard-001

PS: Sorry for the horrible pun in the blog title… If you didn’t get it, then nevermind. 😛

~NJ

Posted by: funwiththesqualies | January 20, 2009

The Month Of January–So Far, That Is…

Okay, I haven’t written in a while and I’m a bit behind…So, January. Yeah. First month of the year. I know January is a favorite with certain people. *pokes Noah, Aaron and Kayla* Well, I understand why January is their favorite month. Towards the end of the month, each one of those people turn a year older. Wonderful. 😀

So, how about a few facts? On average, the month of January tends to be the coldest month in most of the Northern Hemisphere, but the warmest within most of the Southern Hemisphere. Now, I thought this next part was pretty interesting: “Historical names for January include its original Roman designation, Ianuarius, the Saxon term Wulf-monath (meaning wolf month) and Charlemagne’s designation Wintarmanoth (winter / cold month). In Finnish, the month is called tammikuu, meaning month of the oak, but the original meaning was the month of the heart of winter, as tammi has initially meant axis or core. This month in Czech is called leden, meaning ice month.” Cool, huh? Okay, maybe not to you…I thought it was cool, though. 😆 Yeah, okay. I didn’t know about any of that stuff…I guess you learn something new every day, right?

So, you may be wondering what’s been happening in our lives in January…Well, I’ll tell you. Eventually. 😛 😉

Oh, yes. I know what I can tell you about. We had a speech tournament on the 10th Yippee! *sarcasm* 😉 Okay, okay, I admit, it wasn’t that bad, but…yeah, you get my meaning. I think. I hope you did, anyway. It was the KUDOS Miami tournament. Noah competed in Open Interpretation and Duo Interpretation. Aaron and I just did a Duo. Noah placed sixth place in OI and third place in Duo. Aaron and I didn’t place, but I still think we did well. 🙂 We’ll do much better next time. For sure. Anyway, the tournament was long, but we all had a blast. 😀 At least, I did. 😆

On the 11th, we all took a “road trip”, if it can be called that…Anyway, we were taking Faith over to the West Coast to a friends house. The reason for this drive, was because Faith was going to attend the IPS program in St. Petersburg. We dropped Faith off at a friends house and from there, we went to a few beaches along the West Coast. I have to say, I love the sand on the West Coast better than on the East. It’s softer and more powdery. It kinda feels like you’re walking on…I have no idea. I just like it. 😆  I was hoping to find lots of shells, but there weren’t many. However, we did discover some weird hermit crabs. Yeah, they were pretty weird. Sorry, I don’t have a picture to show you…We didn’t exactly bring the camera onto the beach, though, we probably should have. Oh, yes, I should probably tell you that Faith will be returning home on the 23rd. 🙂 And, no doubt, she might have some pictures to put up. Maybe. We’ll see.

And, that’s all that’s happened in our lives, so far. Actually, that’s not exactly true. We did do something fun today, but I think I’ll give that subject its own post. So, au revoir. For now. 🙂

Posted by: funwiththesqualies | December 16, 2008

The Rest Of The Bahamas Trip

Okay, okay, I know I’ve been very negligent when it comes to the blog…Completely my fault.

Anyway, so, I’ll fill you in with the rest of our Bahamas trip…Unfortunately, all the days have been squashed together in my mind…So, I’ve forgotten what we did on what day. This is a bit of a summary…

The big thing on Paradise Island is Atlantis. Atlantis is a huge water park. They have slides and a very long lazy lagoon thing. They call it “The Current”, but I called it the Lazy Lagoon. 😆 It’s just easier to remember, since Wet and Wild has a Lazy Lagoon. Another really cool thing about Atlantis is the kiddie pool area. Seriously, it looked really fun! Although, I was a bit to tall and there too many children. 😛 It had slides, squirt guns, buckets that poured water. I’m telling you, it looked FUN! The Lazy Lagoon was fun. It had a rapids part. That was wild. 😉

The Coral, Royal and Beach Towers were fun, too. They had really expensive stores, that were nice to look at, but not nice to buy from. 😆 They also had a complimentary theater. Outside of the towers, were animal exhibits. Sharks, fish, turtles, stingrays, manta rays, sea stars, horseshoe crabs, and other stuff.

We went to Nassau one day. That was fun. We went into the Nassau Straw Market. Basically, the Straw Market is about 100 people trying to sell you the same thing. I’m not making fun, I’m being serious. We did buy some stuff from them.

Okay, that’s about all I can remember…My, this post is lacking. Oh, well. Sorry.

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