Friday, September 30, 2011

Confessions of Saint Augustine

To all my friends and readers...
You MUST read the Confessions of St. Augustine! They are just wonderful, beautiful, thought provoking, works that I simply LOVE reading. The questions that St. Augustine asks make me want to just think and dwell on who God really is. You can read them for free online at the link below.

Confessions of Saint Augustine Christian Classics Ethereal Library

Have a wonderful day!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Great Gatsby

This is a review that I did on the classic book, "The Great Gatsby," by: F. Scott Fitzgerald. I am part of the Gerneration Joshua Book Club and this year they are looking at the worldwiew in some classic works of fiction. After reading it, I wouldn't reccomend this book to others, but there are some good lessons to be learned. (I still am not sure why this book is a classic. I found it to be disturbing.)

The Great Gatsby
By: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Review By: Kaila Babiak

            Affairs, lies, death and love are a few of the main components of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic book, The Great Gatsby. A story set in the roaring twenties, the reader gets a glimpse into the personal lives of several characters and the affairs that connect them. The tale is one of tragedy and heartbreak, without moral, and with hidden messages.
            We are first introduced to Nick Carraway, a young man living next door to the extremely wealthy Jay Gatsby. As Nick gets to know his neighbor he discovers a startling connection between this man and Nick’s cousin Daisy Buchanan. Through Nick, a long lost love affair between Gatsby and Daisy is brought back to life in a circle of lies, deception and immorality. As a bystander, Nick tells the story in a way that makes you cringe and yet makes you want to hear the end.
            The disturbing thing about the book is the utter lack of morals and justice. Daisy and Gatsby rekindle their love unbeknownced to Daisy’s husband Tom. Tom, while greatly angered when Daisy’s deception is discovered, has his own mistress who plays a large part in the tragedy of the story. Nick plays the role of “middle-man,” who is used by both parties because of his neutrality. Daisy and Gatsby’s love affair ends quite suddenly, in a terrible, tragic, almost unjust manner that leaves you feeling like you got dropped off at the edge of a cliff. Besides the disturbances of the affairs, Tom often makes reference to eugenic agendas to rid the earth of the inferior people and create the perfect human race.
            One major lesson to be learned from this book is the fact that living a life of selfish pleasure seeking with no morals will end in pain and grief. While the story seems to give the impression that unfaithfulness is a perfectly normal part of life, it ends in the reality that your “sins will find you out.” (Num. 32:23) Gatsby sought out what he thought he needed to have, which was fulfillment in life. In the end, he lost everything; wealth, friends and even his life. If a person, even one who does not believe in Christ, tries to live against the rules and breaks God’s law, he will most definitely find himself in trouble. While to some, the story may be disturbing, it is an excellent example of how you cannot just break one law. One bit of unfaithfulness led to lies, deception, anger, and murder. The choices made by the characters effected many more people than they thought and has lasting effects that no one had ever thought of. Just as in real life, our choices will affect those around us, some for the better and some for the worse. The unfortunate thing in this story is that it all turned out for the worse. Whenever we cease from following God’s law we will find ourselves in a labyrinth of trouble and wickedness. So while some may find this to be a disturbing tale and others may find it to be a timeless classic, I prefer to look at it as an ageless lesson of the destruction that follows when men follow their own sinful desires rather than following God’s law.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Leader Worth Following

            Being a leader in a following culture is difficult. The leaders are the ones who stand out, who people follow, who people copy and who people go to when they need help. But, just being a leader does not make you a good leader, nor does it make you a person worthy of being followed. People tend to be very excited when a new leader steps into the scene who speaks well, makes promises and is easy to follow. These optimistic, “I can fix the world” type leaders make unsuspecting listeners rush in line to follow them and obey their every command. Campaign posters fly up everywhere. People talk about the person for days on end. The problem comes when things go wrong and Mr. “I can fix the world” suddenly cannot fix a thing. The people whine and complain, and then the search begins for a new leader. Sadly, very few people are willing to take the effort to find a leader worth following. True leaders have many different traits, all equally important, but there are a few traits that if had, make a leader exceptional. These are humbleness, contentment, patience, and a strong rule over one’s own household.

            Humbleness is the strength of a leader. James 4:6 says, “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” George Washington, the first President of the United States, is legendary to this day and is considered by many to be America’s greatest President. Why? Certainly because of his great patriotism and zeal for his country, but more than all of that was his authentic humility. He did not seek power and prestige, but rather he sought to serve his country and home. He would not allow the people to make him king, he did not take a salary, he sought no glory for himself, and when his second term was up, he humbly resigned setting an example for those to follow. Even King George III of England called Washington “the greatest man on earth.”[1] People will respect humble men. Our second President lacked some of this trait which led to his unpopularity. John Adams possessed all of the patriotism and passion that Washington possessed, but he had a certain independence which led him to a level of pride that angered many. By the end of his term the people considered him to be a stubborn, egotistic man, who they would have no more of. This is not to say that John Adams was a bad leader, but rather that he lacked an invaluable trait that makes a great leader. A leader worth following is a humble leader.

            Unlike George Washington, a greed for money, power, and high esteem is the driving force for many leaders. People want to be remembered as the greatest, the richest, and the most powerful of their generation, but this only leads to power thirsty tyranny. 1Timothy 6:10 tells us, “…the love of money is the root of all evil…” Men who seek to be leaders worth following must be contented with what has been given to them. Greed brings about corruption. This is seen all through history as leader after leader, sought more land, more power, more gold, more of whatever it was that they sought, and ultimately were brought to ruin. Men like Alexander the Great and many of Rome’s Caesars had a goal to get more, to expand their empires. Wealth and power in and of themselves are not evil. What is evil is when wealth and power become the driving force of a leader. When wealth and power consume a leader, the people suddenly become pawns used to fulfill his plans. What is even worse is when a leader begins to compromise his own morals to gain that wealth and power. Compromise is a leader’s swiftest demise. A leader worth following is a content leader.

            Even if he is not greedy, a leader who tries to change the world over night will be despised. No man or woman can expect to be followed if they rush headlong into actions that will have lasting effects. A wise leader will understand that good things take time. Patience is essential in a leader. In the Bible, Peter tells us to, “...add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity...But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off…[2] Change cannot and will not happen all at once. However, a patient leader does not mean a slothful leader. When the time is right, action must be taken. Even if time is on the leader’s side, there will be people in opposition to this change.  Not only does a leader need to be patient with time, but he must be patient with those that oppose him. If he retaliates against their whims and sneers he will forever cast their respect into exile. Only a truly patient man will be able to win the respect and honor of those that may be in opposition against him. When Moses carried out God’s commands, there were many Israelites who were angered. Only through time and a work of God, were the people’s hearts turned back to God and to their leader. A leader worth following is a patient leader.

            Even a patient leader will fail, if he cannot even lead his own family. As sad as the reality is, if a man cannot lead his own family, he will not be a great leader. Even Christian Evangelical leaders suffer from this. 1 Timothy 3:4-5 “One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)”Some of the greatest evangelists have failed, in that while preaching the name of Christ they have neglected their families. How a man rules his family shows his true strengths and weaknesses. America has had its share of leaders who failed to rule their own families. Reckless children, affairs while in office, do these signify true leadership? We should look at these sorts of issues and take them into account when choosing whom we will follow. If a Presidential candidate has failed at his marriage, will he be faithful to his country, to those he works with and to those he leads? If a leader’s family does not stand behind him, then disaster will. A leader who cannot gently lead his family will not be able to gently lead as entire nation. A leader worth following will rule well over his own household.

            These traits of a leader are certainly not all of the traits that make up a great leader. Even if a man has all of the above traits, if he has not wisdom and the fear of the Lord his work shall be for naught. A great leader is a man after God’s own heart. As we see from the example of King David, being a man after God’s own heart does not grantee perfection. All have sinned, but God knows our hearts. When God looks at a leader, He does not see the clean shaven face, tailored suits, and sugar coated promises. Rather He sees the heart of the man. Only God can raise up or bring down a great leader. The most important thing that men must remember is that we live in a fallen world. No leader will be perfect or make all of the right decisions. All leaders on earth will fail, some more than others. The only leader that is perfect in all things is Jesus Christ. He is the greatest leader who ever lived and who ever will live. Only when we put our trust in Him and follow after Him will we be able to have total confidence in our leader.

[1]Kundhardt. The American President. New York: Riverhead Books, 1999.

[2] Selections from 1 Peter 1: 5-9

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A New Phase of Life

I suppose most of you have noticed that I haven't been blogging lately. I have been praying and thinking a lot lately. I turned 17 a couple of weeks ago and I guess I realized that my life is flying by at record speed.

The truth of the matter is I haven't wanted to blog lately.

This blog was started because I wanted to study music and write about it. That much I have done for over a year. Now music isn't my life. Don't get me wrong, God is my life, but at the time music was huge to me. That's what I thought about and wrote about. Now my life has changed some. I feel that I learned what God wanted me to learn through my study of music. I still love music and have a passion for using it to His glory, but now He is teaching me new things.

I thought about quitting the blog, I'm not totally decided yet, but I think for the time being I will continue it, I just won't write solely about music.

On blogger you can be anybody you want to be. I can be a happy-go-lucky, talented, dream girl that's crazy about music. But in reality, even though I love being happy and I love music, I am a young woman that struggles like everyone else. I have to cling with all my might to Christ to get me through. I have experienced many things in life, but I'm not one that cares to share my true weakness. I know it's my pride. You feel stronger when you are smart, capable and independent. It doesn't feel strong to need Christ in every aspect in life. But, I do need Him more than anything else in the world. I don't know what this blog will be like going forward.

I have greatly enjoyed writing on this blog, and will try to continue to do so from time to time. I just realize that I need to re-focus my life a little. I need to focus on following Christ. I need to focus on following God's will for me and my life. I have no idea what He has for me in the coming years. It's exciting and yet frightening. God has brought my family through more than I think any of us ever thought we could handle. I am striving to cling to Him rather than to my own strength.

Since I stopped blogging, I have prayed more, I have sought the Lord more and He has revealed many things to me. So for now, this blog will mainly be for school articles rather than music. Sorry if this disappoints you, but this is what God wants me to do right now.

Continue in the journey....

Your Friend,

Soli Deo Gloria Forever!