13 Goals for 2013

I’m not a huge fan of New Years resolutions. Most of the time I break them before the first week of January is over. So, this year, I decided to set goals instead.

1. Go to D.C. for the Cherry Blossom Festival

I’m working on this and it looks like it just might be a go! I would love to see the cherry blossoms, attend Capitol Hill Baptist Church (maybe for Easter?) and soak up the city that I miss so much.

2. Dean’s list/honors list both semesters

Ever since I changed my major to communications/public relations, my grades have definitely improved. My goal is to make all As and Bs in my remaining classes on top of maintaining a busy work schedule.

3. Visit Erica (and Matt) at ECU

Several sweet friends attend East Carolina University. I’ve been talking about going to see them for a while now, and I think it’s time that I finally do it. Maybe some time in February?

4. Visit Liberty

I also have friends at Liberty University that I’ve wanted to visit. Seeing as many of them graduate in May, I better get on it!

5. Go to California

This is my big goal of the year! I’ve never been to California, but I have some very dear friends that live there. I’d like to visit San Jose, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Potter’s Valley/Mendocino County.

6. See the sun set over the Pacific Ocean

This goes hand in hand with #5, but this has been on my bucket list for forever!

7. Graduate

I’m so excited that this can finally put this on my bucket list for this year! So, good Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise, I will be a college graduate on December 16, 2013!

8. Get a job

A real life, big girl job! I’m not sure where or how, but I do hope I’ll have a job before the end of the year!

9. Hit 50 bylines

In WJC, Terry told us that the entire world looks completely different after 100 bylines. I’m about 1/10 of the way there, and I’d like to be halfway there by the end of the 2013.

10. Read at least halfway through the Bible

I’ve never been able to keep up with a one year reading plan, but I do think that halfway is doable, so that’s my goal. My Bible app on my phone shows me how far I’ve gotten on the plan, so I can track how much I’ve read.

11. Learn to shoot a gun

I’ve wanted to learn to shoot for a while, I just can never convince anyone to take me.

12. Read at least six non-school books

I know some people who read 40+ books a year, the least I could do is read half a dozen.

13. Create at least six signature cupcakes

I LOVE cupcakes! I’ve started creating some of my own cupcake concoctions. Last weekend, I started with a Nutella cupcake. Who knows what else I’ll come up with this year?

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The big stink about the inaugural benediction (and the Gospel)

I was scrolling through my Twitter feed the other day, taking in the usual tweets… you know: gun control, Oscar nominations and the White House Chief of Staff replacement (yes, there’s some @HonestToddler and @DepressedDarth there too). But then, a certain news story began taking over my newsfeed, and it went something a little like this:

BOILING SPRINGS, NC (XYZ NEWS SERVICE) – Evangelical pastor, Louis Giglio, withdrew from giving the benediction at the president’s inauguration on Jan. 21, after a liberal group discovered a controversial sermon of his on homosexuality from the mid 1990s.

ThinkProgress, the group that unearthed the sermon, provided several portions of the manuscript on their website in their initial story.  The original recording can be found here.

In the message, Giglio points to multiple passages in the Bible that state that homosexuality is a sin (I Corinthians 6:9-10, for example).

“…Homosexuality is not an alternate lifestyle… homosexuality is not just a sexual preference homosexuality is not gay, but homosexuality is sin. It is sin in the eyes of God, and it is sin according to the Word of God… It is not ambiguous and unclear. It is very clear.”

Giglio went on to offer hope and the promise healing. “And the only way out of a homosexual lifestyle, the only way out of a relationship that has been engrained over years of time, is through the healing power of Jesus.”

ThinkProgress and many other Americans didn’t like that message. They didn’t like being told that homosexuality is wrong. They certainly didn’t like being told that homosexuals should change.

But maybe, just maybe, they took Giglio’s message a little too personally. Later on, he says, “We’ve got to say the homosexuals, the same thing that I say to you and that you would say to me… it’s not easy to change, but it is possible to change.”

Giglio puts himself, and everyone else sitting in his congregation, in the same plight as those living a homosexual lifestyle—the place of a sinner.

In Romans 3, Paul is very clear about who is affected by sin.

What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

Romans 3:9-12 (ESV)

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Romans 3:23 (ESV)

You are a sinner. I am a sinner. Louis Giglio is a sinner. Billy Graham is a sinner. Homosexuals are sinners. Adulterers are sinners. Gluttons are sinners. The proud are sinners. Gossips are sinners. Murders are sinners. Every single human being on this earth is a sinner.

As sinners, we are condemned. Judgment. Hell. Eternal separation from God. These are the consequences of sin.

In Romans 6, we see our death sentence pronounced.

“For the wages of sin is death,…”

Romans 6:23a (ESV)

The beauty is that Paul doesn’t stop with death. He finishes the sentence.

“BUT the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 6:23b (ESV) (Emphasis my own)

What exactly is this free gift?

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

John 3:16-17 (ESV)

The book of John tells us that God sent Jesus, his son—His perfect, spotless son—to our sinful and fallen world. Not to just coexist with the sinners… not to bring judgment on sinners. Jesus came to earth as a substitute for our sins.

HE was condemned. HE was judged. HE suffered through Hell. HE was separated from God. HE took on the consequences of our sins.

He offers us a new life, not one defined by our sin (and consequently, our separation from God), but one defined by His holiness. All we have to do is accept His gift of eternal life.

Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Romans 10:9-13 (ESV) (Emphasis my own.)

“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Everyone. That means Louis Giglio, Billy Graham, homosexuals, adulturers, gluttons, the proud, gossips, murders–even you and me.

Here, there and yonder

After a particularly sweet Christmas, the Groh family is here, there and yonder. I’m back at Gardner-Webb University and I start classes later today, Mommy’s back in Raleigh taking care of some last minute medical appointments for Granddaddy and Daddy’s back in Appleton bringin’ home the bacon.

We started out Christmas with a whirlwind tour of Washington, D.C. Mommy, Daddy and Grandma came up to pick me up from my semester, so we spent a few days exploring our nation’s capitol.

After a fantastic weekend, we drove home, slept and repacked, then drove to Florida the next day. While in Florida, we had lunch with my Great Aunt Ellen, went to Disney world with some sweet friends and explored Cocoa Beach (where I Dream of Jeannie was set).

On the way back home, we stopped in Charleston, SC. I loved the old homes and beautiful architecture (and the seafood wasn’t bad either).

The following day, two friends and I headed up to Roanoke, VA for a semi-surprise visit with Hannah (my old roommate) and her husband. I have missed that girl too stinkin’ much!

We hosted Christmas this year and things were surprisingly peaceful and fun.

After we ate, opened presents, ate some more, and opened even more presents, the “sisters” and their families went to see Les Misérables. OH MY GOODNES! Best movie of my LIFE… no exaggeration, I PROMISE!

I got to catch up with lots of sweet friends that I haven’t seen in a long time, and my family also spent time bonding over Downton Abbey.

All in all, this Christmas was probably the best break of recent years. Unfortunately, it has come to an end. It’s time to get back to reality and to tackle my next to last semester at Gardner-Webb.

I’m excited about all the experiences this semester should bring. I have a new roommate and am living on a new hall—both seem to be good changes (although I most certainly miss the old roommate immensely). I’m meeting with two editors from the Shelby Star next week about writing for them some this semester. I also am planning to continue interning in the University Relations Office on campus. I have some really interesting classes this semester, and I also get to have some professors that I really respect.