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FOCus on Dominion Contest

Ford and Andrea Schwartz

Essays Found Below

First Place: Grace Christine Waters
                    (Olympia, WA) — $500
Second Place: Jesse Irish Johnson
                        (Northport, WA) — $300
Third Place: Emily Robinson
                     (Williamsburg, KS) — $200

Noteworthy Entries:

  • Adjiku Matthew (Dansoman, Accra, Ghana)
  • Samuel Parker (Northport, Washington)
  • Daniel Wells (Tampa, Florida)
  • Johannah Rachel Gorden (New Windsor, Maryland)
  • Katherine Loop (Fairfax, Virginia)
  • William Spragge (Northport, Washington)
  • Ross Harrington (Northport, Washington)
  • Ashley MacKay (Northport, Washington)

The Winning Essays:

First Place
by Grace Christine Waters

“And God blessed them, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over every living thing.” (Genesis 1:28) This is known as the “dominion mandate” – the divine task of bringing God’s kingdom on earth. How do we fulfill this mandate? By knowing that God has given each of us a vocation through which we can glorify Him. A child can learn to take dominion by fulfilling his calling to serve and honor his parents. Also, a part of my vocation includes being a member of our church choir where I have the opportunity to take dominion by glorifying God wherever we practice or perform. As we live in obedience to God’s Word, our entire lives can be spent in taking dominion over the things right around us.

Martin Luther says in his Small Catechism, “The kingdom of God comes to us when our heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit so that by His grace we believe His Holy Word and lead a godly life here in time and hereafter in eternity.” In other words, by living our lives according to God’s Word, we are taking dominion. Therefore everything we do becomes a sacred and holy work that glorifies God, whether it be washing dishes or attending a Bible study. Knowing this causes even the down-to-earth tasks I do to become a joy-- it is in these very mundane tasks that God shows up. Luther says, “A cobbler praises God when he honestly makes a good pair of shoes.”

By fulfilling my vocation as a daughter, which means honoring my parents and serving in our home, I am taking dominion. This means cooking, cleaning, and
helping care for my younger brother and sisters. Sometimes these things can be seen as a hassle and a bore, but when I remember that they are a part of my vocation as a daughter I can do them gladly and without grumbling or complaining – thus showing myself to be a child of God (Philippians 2:14). Ironically, the more I can enjoy doing these everyday tasks, the less time they take. Even cleaning the house, because it’s done in response to the Fourth Commandment and God’s dominion mandate, becomes a sacred work which pleases God.

In our church community we see music as an effective way to preach the gospel – and thereby take dominion. Our choir consists of children ages fourteen through twenty. Qualifying as a member requires intense practice, vocal training, and continual improvement. We sing many styles of music, from Bach cantatas to the Star Spangled Banner, and are called upon to perform at various events in our state throughout the year. For example, we perform annually at several Veterans’ Memorial Services and have been awarded the ‘Outstanding Youth Patriotic Service Award’. At one such performance we sang a medley that included “You’ve Got a Friend” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone”; afterward, the speaker dubbed us ‘The hope of America’ while the Veterans’ eyes filled with tears – they could hardly believe that there are young people that are still taught to honor them and the sacrifices they made. Also, we were called upon to sing the National Anthem for the Seattle Mariners at the first Major League Baseball game after the events of 9/11. The president of the Seattle Mariners requested our choir because he felt we were the only group whom he could trust to deliver the anthem with the correct intent. By serving people and giving to them in ways that they appreciate, we are able to bring the message of the gospel to them, although the songs we sing may not necessarily be “Christian”; and after days and nights of practicing, the sacrificing my time for other things, really is worth it. As C. S. Lewis said, “What is looked for in us, as men, is a kind of glorifying which depends on intent. … When it succeeds I think the performers are the most enviable of men, privileged while mortals to honor God like angels and, for a few golden moments, to see spirit and flesh, delight and labor, skill and worship, all fused into that unity they would have had before the Fall.”

Living our lives according to God’s Word, we can bring His kingdom to this earth. Whether by serving our parents in the home, by singing in a choir, or by doing any other thing as unto the Lord, we can fulfill His command of taking dominion over every living thing. “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” (Col 3:17)

Second Place
by Jesse Irish Johnson

This essay is about taking dominion over God’s creation (Gen. 1:28). Now, you may be thinking that I’m writing about taking care of the animals and the land, but you’ll soon find that this essay has very little to do with either. What I want you to do is stop and think. What is God’s greatest creation? If you said Hawaii, I’d have to say you’re wrong. God’s greatest creation is man. Why? We’re made in His image; how much more "great" can you get? As John 13:34 and 15:12 say, if our brother or sister is hungry we should feed them; if they’re naked, clothe them. As this applies obviously to the physical sense, it also applies in very much so to the spiritual sense. If your brother or sister is spiritually hungry feed him/her (Jas. 2:13-18).

When you make the choice to start taking dominion over any area, you are always going to have to make sacrifices—or give up some things. This last summer, when I was visiting my aunt and uncle, I had the opportunity to go on a mission’s trip with them, and what I had to give up was a week devoted to having fun with a friend. Looking back now, I’m so glad I made the decision to go with my aunt and uncle, for I not only learned and accomplished a lot, but I also feel that God really spoke to me on this trip.

For the trip, we went to Denver, Colorado, to minister in the inner city. Once there, we met with the head of Open Door Ministries. She gave us our marching orders for the week, and the next day we set them into action.

Some of the things we accomplished were as follows: we built a wheel chair ramp on a ministry home for the physically disabled; we worked with a day-care center; we helped a "second chance school" set up for the school year; we thoroughly cleaned the apartment of a lady who had cerebral palsy; and we put together a Vacation Bible School for the kids of the area.

A big highlight for me was being able to help the lady who had cerebral palsy. My uncle, a couple of others, and myself did, thoroughly cleaned her apartment. Now the reason that this was a highlight wasn’t because I got to clean an apartment. It was because of the service I was able to do for this incredible woman who, despite her disability, had accomplished so much in regard to ministry that it put most physically healthy adults to shame. Although doing something like cleaning an apartment doesn’t sound like a big deal, it was an honor for me because of the fact that I was able to bless her by doing something that because of her disability she normally wouldn’t be able to do. The Bible says for us to take care of those who are in need (Eph. 4:28b); doing this is a huge facet of taking dominion.

Now we come to probably the most important part of taking dominion, ministering to the children. The reason I say this is the most important is because children are the future, and what we do now to sow into their lives is what will determine which way the future is going to go. The Bible says that the little children are what the Kingdom of God is all about. If we are not doing anything about that then how are we going to ever bring God’s Kingdom to this earth? In Denver we put on a puppet show, played games, sang songs, but most powerfully, we were able to help them. We helped the children by giving them comfort, love, and encouragement, some things that they may not always get in their homes, and also by teaching them valuable lessons about Christ and the love He has for them. These were lessons I pray they will never forget; lessons I pray that will help them in life; lessons that will bring them light in the darkest hours of their lives. children by giving them comfort, love, and encouragement, some things that they may not always get in their homes, and also by teaching them valuable lessons about Christ and the love He has for them. These were lessons I pray they will never forget; lessons I pray that will help them in life; lessons that will bring them light in the darkest hours of their lives.

Although I enjoyed helping others, it also broke my heart, knowing that there are millions of children in this world, who don’t know Christ and are spiritually and emotionally starving, starving for love, starving for life, and starving for the light that is out there, yet there’s no one to show them the way. Yes, I may have taken dominion in this area once or twice, but that just brought a little bit of change. We all need to daily look for ways we can plant seeds of light into the hearts of others, seeds that will grow and carry them out of the darkness they may be in. It’s not about just a one-time, or a two-time "experience." It’s about us making the choice every day to ask God to bring people to us so we can impart the truth to them. That’s taking dominion, and when we take dominion over the needs of others, if we’re doing it right, we’ll impart that mandate to them, so that they can start taking dominion also. That’s truly taking dominion, and is the only way that any big change is going to happen.

Third Place
by Emily Robinson

When I consider God’s dominion over the Christian life, I fall incredibly short, because I realize the great responsibility that we have to live completely under God’s authority. Jesus says in Matthew 28:18; “ ... All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age.”

During conversations, when considering God’s authority in the Christian life, it is sad to say that most people neglect mentioning the self. It’s easy for us to talk about ourselves and about what we believe; but not when considering God‘s divine order over us individually. We tend to shy away from that. In today’s society a growing number of Christians are lukewarm and barely alive for the Lord. Many pretend to think that God’s dominion is either for the rarest, most serious form of Christian, or for no one at all. We can all agree that God is the author of all life, and yet few of us can admit that it is our personal responsibility to live under His authority. “ It’s not for me,” Some people say, “It takes too much commitment.” Have we begun to consider it a “choice” to live under God’s divine order, when in reality it is our obligation?

Shying away from what God expects of us personally, we tend to focus our attentions on the “Greater Christian Society” of the past, people like Dietrich Bonhoeffer and CS Lewis. Isn‘t it ironic how those who willingly fought against the evil things which our culture now tolerates, are the same people who we now remember and love? They were greatly pressured Christianswho had stood up for their faith in amazing ways, and they were willing to serve God to the fullest. We talk about them proudly, but have we forgotten that God’s order applies to our lives as well?

It was a cold ride home in the ‘77 Ford Granada. Like many other evenings before, my brother and I were on our way home from youth group --discouraged. It was supposed to be a place of spiritual refreshment, and yet somehow we always came home feeling degraded. There was something that cut my brother and I off from the rest of the group, and it felt terrible. Facing a love/hate relationship, I had attended the meetings with hopes of being an encouragement to my friends, but meanwhile I was hearing sick jokes, and I was tolerating people who thought that profanity was okay. “Is this my call to follow God? To leave my own church youth group?” Questions like these would tumble through my mind miserably. I knew that my Heavenly Father was discouraged by the things going on in the group, and I knew that He didn’t desire for me to be a part of that. But there was so much holding me back. Leaving a Christian church because it’s a bad influence? This was hard truth to accept. If I had done as God wished, then there would be the immediate loss of friends, and a good deal of my social life. I was blinded by the desire to please others, and I badly needed forgiveness

You see, during that struggle with God, I had been fabricating reasons for why His plans wouldn‘t work out, but I wasn’t allowing myself to see the BIG PICTURE.

How desperately I needed to realize that God would take care of me, if I simply obeyed Him! My faith was in essence — paralyzed. As my hidden weaknesses rapidly began to unravel, I came to a point of realization. Much like choosing between life and death, we are either with God or in need of God. There is no in between, and it is when we realize this, that we willingly hurl ourselves to the throne of God, and accept His perfect authority over our lives. We experience healing and redemption, and we will never be the same.

Matthew 9:1-7 speaks about a paralytic being healed: “Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. Some men brought to Him a Paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the Paralytic, “Take heart son; your sins are forgiven.

At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, ‘ This fellow is blaspheming.’

Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier to say, ‘ your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘ Get up and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins...” Then he said to the Paralytic, “Get up, take your mat, and go home.”

The man lying on the mat had faced a terrible discomfort, but his physical disability was not very different from my own spiritual weakness. Yet while I was blinded by the desire to please others, the paralytic’s situation was very clear to him. He could either be paralyzed for the rest of his life, or he could have complete healing. Not wanting to stay a cripple, he went to Jesus with faith that he could be healed. Not only was his body healed, but his sins were completely forgiven.

Maybe you are like me. Unsteady and unaware of what would happen, I finally left the youth group. I realize that many are afraid to live committed lives for God, but know that He will take care of us, when we accept His authority over our lives. Like the paralyzed man, I have experienced God’s care and healing, and I know I will never be the same.

The Rousas John Rushdoony
Service Awards

Friends of Chalcedon and Chalcedon Institute

Click here to see the winners of the Rousas John Rushdoony Awards