Friday, January 16, 2015

How to Find Me Online

Hello everyone!

I've been trying out several new things and I wanted to share with you how you can follow me and Beloved Blog in different ways online.

First of all, I've created a facebook page for Beloved Blog. I always post new blog articles to this page and I also try to update often with encouraging verses and thoughts. If you're on facebook, please go and like it!
You can do so here: Beloved Blog

You can also follow my personal account on pinterest. I update the Beloved board with all my latest articles and you can check out all my other boards to see what else I like!
Follow me on Pinterest

Another way you can get the latest updates is the site bloglovin, which allows you to follow all of your favorite blogs and access them easily all at once.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin

I also post my articles on different link-ups, many of which are listed in the sidebar.

I'm so glad that you come by and read my posts! I hope that this helps you find them more easily! God bless!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Just Something To Think About: The Meaning Of Life In One Sentence

"What's the meaning of life?" "What are we here for?" "Why do we exist?"  Have you ever asked those questions? Maybe you haven't. Maybe you've got so much going on in your life that you've never stopped long enough to wonder why you're here. Life gets busy after all and there's lots to do just to stay afloat! But maybe you have asked these questions. Millions of people have asked them over the ages. Some think they find the answer but most don't. Some ask the question and never come up with an answer that satisfies them so they try to ignore that nagging thought for the rest of their lives. 
I believe these are important questions and they deserve to be asked. However, the thing that most people miss when asking these questions is that the Bible provides clear, concise answers. Did you know that? It's true. One short sentence in the book of Ecclesiastes sums everything up quite nicely. But before we go there, let's look at what some other people have said that the meaning of life is.

Many people have tried to explain the meaning of life throughout the ages. I looked up some quotes on the meaning of life (which appears to be a frequent google search) and these are some that I came up with. Some of these people ascribed to the theory they put forth but others (such as those whose quote is found in a work of fiction) might not have. Here are some things that have been said about the meaning of life:

Author Anais Nin in The Diary of Anais Nin Volume I says: There is not one big cosmic meaning for all; there is only the meaning we each give to our life, an individual meaning, an individual plot, like an individual novel, a book for each person.”

Author and guru Amit Ray says (and I'll admit that I don't really understand what he meant by this): "“It does not matter how long you are spending on the earth, how much money you have gathered or how much attention you have received. It is the amount of positive vibration you have radiated in life that matters,” 

Author Robert Louis Stevenson says in his book Familiar Studies of Men and Books“To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end of life.”

Michael Crichton in his novel Congo says: “The purpose of life is to stay alive. Watch any animal in nature--all it tries to do is stay alive. It doesn't care about beliefs or philosophy. Whenever any animal's behavior puts it out of touch with the realities of its existence, it becomes extinct.” 

Author Henry Miller says "Life has to be given a meaning because of the obvious fact that it has no meaning.” 

And just for fun, Douglas Adams famously said in his book The Hitchhiker's Guide To the Galaxy“The Ultimate Answer to Life, The Universe and Everything is...42!”

Some people take the simplistic stance that the meaning of life is to stay alive as long as possible or that the meaning of life is "not being dead". Others believe that there is no real meaning to life. Still others believe that the meaning of life is individualistic--- life means something different for everybody. Then there are people who believe that there is an overall meaning to life, but it's too complicated to figure out.

The Bible, however, presents us with another view: there is a meaning to life, it's simple, and it's universal.

It's found in the book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament. I wish the book of Ecclesiastes needed  no introduction but I'm afraid that it's not as well read as it should be. The book of Ecclesiastes was written by someone who identifies himself as the Preacher. The circumstances of the book lead us to believe that this is Solomon. We read in 1 Kings 3 that God offers to give Solomon (the son and heir of King David) anything he wants. Solomon, who's new to being king, asks for wisdom to govern God's people. God was pleased that he asked for wisdom instead of riches so God gives him the wisdom he asked for as well as the riches and honor he did not ask for. History shows us that Solomon was a much revered and very wealthy king. He built the first temple to the Lord in Jerusalem. He expanded Israel's territory further than it had been before. He received visits from powerful rulers like the Queen of Sheba. He also wrote most of the book of Proverbs, Song of Solomon, Ecclesiates, as well as some Psalms.

It's the knowledge of Solomon's wisdom and riches that give us the framework for understanding the book of Ecclesiates. While Solomon always had the wisdom that the Lord gave him in his head, he didn't always use it to make good choices (Ecc. 2:3). His heart turned away from the Lord and he pursued other things. The book of Ecclesiastes chronicles his long and vast search to find meaning in his life.Reading through its twelve chapters, we learn that he tried every, and I mean everything, in his search for meaning. He tried living a life of luxury. He tried sex. He tried intoxication. He tried hard work. He tried being a good person. He tried grand construction projects. In the end, what did he find? Ecclesiastes 12:13 gives us his conclusion: 

"The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole of man. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil."

It's such a simple solution to such a complex question. It's not a solution that most of the world will be willing to hear. The proposition that life's meaning comes from God, that there are commandments to be followed, and that 'j' word "judgement" that seems to make everyone terribly uncomfortable will no doubt turn many people away from this truth. However, truth is truth no matter what. 

In many versions it says that fearing God and keeping his commandments is the whole "duty" of man. However, from my study I've found that the word for duty is not found in the original language but is added in parentheses many English translations to help the reader understand. In my opinion, though, this is one help that wasn't very helpful. From what I understand, the verse isn't trying say that fearing God and keeping his commandments is our whole duty. Fearing God is our whole. It's our all, our everything. It's the reason we exist, our purpose in life.

So if fearing God and keeping his commandments is our purpose for being, how do we carry that out? We should start with knowing God. We can't give him the proper honor (fear, reverence) he deserves if we don't know him. You get to know God by talking to him in prayer and by letting him speak to you through his word. You will not only learn his character but his commandments, the way he's laid out for people to live their life. 

Inevitably, though, when we know God's perfect commandments, we realize that he haven't always kept them perfectly. Our shortcomings, our sins, separate us from God. God realized that too and the Bible says that from the beginning of time he had a plan to erase the separation (1 Peter 1:17-21). He sent his perfect son Jesus to pay the penalty for our sins, which is death (Romans 6:23). The sacrifice that Jesus made has the ability to bring us back into the close relationship with God that we were created for but his sacrifice demands a response from us. We must choose to accept the free gift of eternal life that God is offering us.

In Acts 2, Peter tells a crowd of people about the sacrifice of Jesus. This is their response and in turn, Peter's response to them  (Acts 2:37-41):

'When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.'

If you haven't accepted the message of Jesus and responded to it the way that Peter told these first century truth-seekers with repentance and baptism, that should be your first step to living out your purpose in life.

Maybe you have already repented and been baptized for the forgiveness of your sins. How can someone who has already obeyed the gospel better live out what the Bible says is our purpose in life? If fearing God and keeping his commandment is our whole, our everything, shouldn't it be our priority? Sometimes even as Christians we let other things distract us from knowing God, giving him the honor he deserves and living the way that he wants us to live. Don't let anything get in your way of praying, reading God's word, meeting with his church (Hebrews 10:24-25), living righteously and advancing the message of Christ! It's difficult, but we must keep our priorities straight!

The Bible is full of answers to life's biggest questions. He wouldn't leave us here on earth to fumble through finding life's meaning on our own. He's laid it out for us very clearly. Determining how fearing God and keeping his commandments looks in each of our lives from day to day, from moment to moment, in each situation is the challenge that's put before us. Thankfully, we have his word to guide us!

How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
    By living according to your word.
 I seek you with all my heart;
    do not let me stray from your commands.

Psalm 119:9-10

What can you do today to better live out your purpose: fearing God and keeping his commandments?

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Most Popular Boys Names By the Letter 2013

Hello everyone! When parents look at the popularity of a name, they usually only consider how popular it is in the overall ranking, not where it is in terms of popularity for its initial. While I don't think popularity should stop you from using a name that you love, it is something worth considering. Last week we talked about the most popular girls names for every letter of the alphabet and now it's time for the boys list! Each of these names is the most used name for the letter it starts with in 2013 (still the most recent list).

Well, there you have the most popular boys names by the letter for 2013! My favorites on this list are Alexander, Benjamin, Ethan, Gabriel, Samuel, and Isaac. There are a lot of great biblical boys names on this list! I hope you enjoyed these and may God bless you!

Which of these is your favorite? Are there any that surprised you? Let me know in comments!