The Connoisseur

The Connoisseur

Dangers on Criticizing The Church
Drew
Drew
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A wine tester will develop a certain preference of quality. Humans have the habit of criticizing to great detail so they may only expect quality, or at least desire it—Humans naturally are connoisseurs. This is, in itself, is not of bad quality. In its inherent purpose, it drives humans only to produce the best of results. Although, it is important that we do not fully apply this connoisseur practice to our faith, specifically within the Church.

We as college students, generally freshmen, are searching for a church to attend here for the next four years or even longer. After visiting numerous churches within few months’ time, we train ourselves to have specific desires out of the church. In other words we ask “Is this church going to impress me?” A list of standards starts to form in our heads. We start to go down the checklist and if a single check is missing, we start to question if we would continue to attend this church. Instead of letting the spirit lead us, we let our eyes, ears, and all our senses create an impression. In this exercise, the attender is letting that which is material influence what is spiritual. C.S. Lewis addresses the issue in Screwtape Letters, a book on spiritual warfare from the perspective of a demon, “Surely you know that if a man can’t be cured of churchgoing, the next best thing is to send him all over the neighborhood looking for the church that ‘suits’ him until he becomes a taster or connoisseur of churches…”. Deciding to attend a church should have nothing to do with our comfortability or compatibility—honestly the only question we should ask is, “Is this church sharing the Jesus’ Truth?” If we begin to front the church with numerous questions such as: Is this church Calvinist or Armenian, do they believe in the practice of heavenly tongues, large or big, topical or scriptural; I have found with in my first few months we, students are generating shallow and extremely materialistic standards of the church. These qualifications range from the style of worship to whether or not if they have a café in a close vicinity. C.S. Lewis continues on the topic of the dangers of church criticizing, “…The search for a ‘suitable’ church makes the man a critic where the Enemy [God] wants him to be a pupil. I have found myself making or even criticizing elements of my current church. God has fortunately convicted me of my habit. The Father showed me, “Blessed is the man who loves the Bride, not because of Her beauty, Her sweet voice, nor Her wise words, but loves Her for Her heart.” So I pray, LORD let us not store up wants from your church but fulfill what You desire of Your Bride. Let us be servants rather than those who want service. For God, You sent Your Son, the greatest servant to walk this earth, on our behalf. I pray the church follows Her teacher in His practices. Amen.

Cover Image Credit: martijnkort-photography.com

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17 Empowering Bible Verses For Women

You go, girl.
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We all have those days where we let the negative thoughts that we're "not good enough," "not pretty enough" or "not smart enough" invade our minds. It's easy to lose hope in these situations and to feel like it would be easier to just give up. However, the Bible reminds us that these things that we tell ourselves are not true and it gives us the affirmations that we need. Let these verses give you the power and motivation that you're lacking.

1. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future."

2. Psalm 46:5

"God is within her, she will not fall."

3. Luke 1:45

"Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her."

4. Proverbs 31:17

"She is energetic and strong, a hard worker."

5. Psalm 28:7

"The Lord is my strength and my shield."

6. Proverbs 11:16

"A gracious woman gains respect, but ruthless men gain only wealth."

7. Joshua 1:9

"Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

8. Proverbs 31:30

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised."

9. 1 Corinthians 15:10

"By the grace of God, I am what I am."

10. Proverbs 31:26

"When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness."

11. Psalm 139:14

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made."

12. 1 Peter 3:3-4

"Don't be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God."

13. Colossians 2:10

"And in Christ you have been brought to fullness."

14. 2 Timothy 1:7

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."

15. Jeremiah 29:11

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'"

16. Exodus 14:14

"The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm."

17. Song of Songs 4:7

"You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way."

Next time you're feeling discouraged or weak, come back to these verses and use them to give you the strength and power that you need to conquer your battles.

Cover Image Credit: Julia Waterbury

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A Florida House Committee Is Undermining Your Vote On Amendment 4

Before felons can regain their right to vote, they must pay court fines, fees, and take care of any other "financial obligations." Essentially, this is a poll tax.

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Amendment 4, also known as the Voting Rights Restoration for Felons Initiative, was added to the Constitution of Florida after being passed this last midterm election on November 6, 2018.

Amendment 4 restored the voting rights of Floridians with prior felony convictions after all terms of their sentence have been met, including parole and probation. This amendment only applies to felons who have not been convicted of murder or sexual offenses.

On January 8, 2019, an estimated 1.4 million ex-felons regained their right to vote. This is monumental. Prior to this amendment, Florida was one of four states that used felony disenfranchisement. Amendment 4 gives voice, and rightfully so, to felons who have served their time. Amendment 4 is also putting to rest, finally, years and years of disenfranchisement and suppression.

Now, only two months after its passage, the House Criminal Justice Committee is trying to water down this piece of legislation. This is a direct violation of the will of the 64% of Floridians who voted for the legislation as is. This amendment was not to be "clarified," as Governor DeSantis put it, but rather to be self-implementing.

However, the House Criminal Justice Committee proposed a bill that would tack on some extra qualifiers in order for felons to be enfranchised. The bill will require court fines, fees, and other "financial obligations" (in addition to fees administered in a judge's sentence) to be paid in full before a felon's voting rights are restored. This seems awfully similar to a poll tax to me. Obviously, this is going to affect people without a lot of resources rather than white-collar criminals who can afford a $500,000 bond.

This new qualifier will prevent felons from voting based on the money that can be coughed up as if they don't have to worry about their finances long after they leave prison.

Some may argue that these felons shouldn't have committed a crime in the first place. However, I would argue that holding a felon's vote hostage on the basis of money is unconstitutional.

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