Niceness

I love people who are driven by compassion, but I am consistently befuddled by their fixation on niceness. They love to look for niceness in their social environments. I have found that many Christians have a compulsion to try and live out the spiritual fruit of kindness by being nice, and I have become resistant to that compulsion over the passed few years.

As far as I understand, kindness has to do with a desire to do good and be helpful to others, and niceness has to do with pleasurable, enjoyable or attractive qualities or experiences. They are not the same thing. Kindness is nice, but niceness does not automatically indicate kindness. (This feels like it could be another flawed syllogism; I think I have a thing for those.)

To be nice is to be polite. It is to behave in a way that everyone agrees is good. To be kind is do what is good and helpful for someone, regardless of whether or not everyone agrees that it is good. I would say that compassion is far more synonymous with kindness than it is with niceness. I think when we begin to tie kindness to politeness, we begin to loose what kindness really is.

Don't just accept what I am saying though, because once again, I am biased. I don't like looking for niceness. I like looking for grit. I like messiness. I look for people to unfold their messiness and grittiness before me, because that is where I find the hidden treasures. I was recently told that God would give me the treasures of darkness (especially in relation to my writing), and that fascinated me because shortly after that was spoken over me the scripture where that phrase is used was read aloud. Isaiah 45:3. Simply titillating!

I am beginning to wonder if this might be one of the things about me that was being referred to. I am fascinated by dark things. I want to know why the human psyche has such darkness, and I want to know what's hidden inside of that darkness. I know many Christians will give me the blanket answer that we have fallen short of the glory of God and live in a fallen world, and while I don't disagree with that, I want to dive deeper. I'm not satisfied with just the all encompassing answer; I want to know all the smaller answers within it.

Well, I guess that's my rant for today. I'm strongly considering changing the description to reflect how much I ramble on. I think I may actually do that.

Anywho! Thanks for reading my blog! God bless you!

On Friendship and Mentorship

I have a confession to make. I don't want friends. *gasp* I must me emotionally stunted! What kind of person doesn't want friends? Surely I am a sociopath, or something like it.

Well, now that I have made you question my socio-emotional maturity, allow me to elaborate. I see the value of friendships, and I am very grateful for the friendships I have in my life. I love you, friends. However, I don't want any more friends. I no longer crave having peers. I crave something else now.

I crave a mentor. I yearn for a mentor. That's weird, though. I mean, how do you go about getting one? Do I just go up to someone I respect and say, "Hey, wanna be my mentor?" It's not quite the same as making a friend.

Mentorship is very important, though. It's basically discipleship, and I think sometimes Christians misunderstand the depth of discipleship. I wonder if we often think it begins and ends with an unbeliever becoming a believer, or whatever terminology you want to use, but it doesn't stop there. Discipleship actually truly begins after process is finished, because it's really a relationship. It's a relationship that has a teacher-student dynamic, and that's clearly very important sense those were some of the central relationships in Jesus' ministry.

I struggle to find a mentor. I think it's partially an issue of modern culture, because people have become so suspicious of the very concept of authority that a discipling relationship looks problematic (oh, I hate that word). However, it's also because the people who have tried to mentor me have neglected a very important need of mine, and by no fault of their own.

The people who have been drawn to me have been deeply spiritual people, and that's great! I love exploring the depths of spirituality! However, I don't want to neglect my intellect, but that's almost impossible to avoid when the people who want to invest in me focus almost exclusively on spiritual and emotional growth. Again, there's nothing wrong with that! If they're wired that way then they're wired that way. No judgement here.

I hesitate to say this, but I can't help but notice a trend. The people who have wanted to mentor me have mainly been women, and the people whom I have wanted to mentor me have mostly been men. I have nothing against other women, and I will reiterate one more time, I highly value their wisdom and investment in the socio-emotional pursuit of spirituality. However, I want more, and I struggle to find women who are as interested in exploring a purely intellectual examination of faith and spirituality as I am.

Unfortunately, it's weird looking for a male mentor. I am extremely neurotic, so any possibility of my relationships even LOOKING like they could be inappropriate is enough to stop me. So, what do I do? Well, so far, I have satisfied this need by finding people on the internet to listen to.

I love Dr. Jordan Peterson, J. Warner Wallace, and even David Wood. They are huge inspirations for me. I also enjoy the YouTubers Sargon of Akkad and Computing Forever, and to be honest I view their content more than anyone else's content. (I know, I know, some people consider them pseudo-intellectuals, but I still think they have good insights.) Now, I am not trying to bad mouth atheists – quite the opposite actually, I have a great deal of respect for a lot of social and political commentators who happen to be atheists – but I wonder what it might say about what Christian communities may be lacking , when the majority of my need for mentorship is being fulfilled by atheists. We have lost something in our Christian communities. We need to find it again.

My dear atheist friends, please don't misunderstand me. I don't think you are lesser than Christians, I am simply saddened by the lack of Christian mentors who I can connect with. I have found much wisdom and companionship with atheists and agnostics, and I am deeply grateful for that. I only make the distinction to illustrate my point that I wish I could find a mentor who would invest in my intellectual growth as a vital component of my faith walk.

Anywho. Thank you for reading my blog. God bless you! I love you all!

Throwing Out Pieces of Jesus

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

If Jesus is the word of God, and has been so since the beginning, is every word that has ever come from God Jesus? When we dismiss Old Testament Scriptures when the New Testament Scriptures have not specifically instructed us to do so, are we dismissing pieces of Jesus? When we nitpick the scriptures, are we nitpicking Jesus? When we metaphorically (or literally) throw out Scriptures that we don’t like or assume are irrelevant, are we throwing out pieces of Jesus? Are we, by such actions, attempting to dictate to Jesus (and others) what pieces of His being are significant and what pieces are insignificant? When withhold Scriptures from others when they could be shared, are we withholding Jesus from others? When we force Scripture into people’s lives when it is not welcomed, are we forcing Jesus into people lives?

Is this how we treat our King? Is this how we treat our Savior? Is this how we treat the bridegroom of the Church?

If Jesus is the Word of God, and this is how we treat God’s Word now, will it carry over into the Kingdom of Heaven in how we treat Jesus directly?

Ah, so many questions. I suppose that’s all I have lately.

Thank you for reading my blog. 🙂 What are your thoughts on these questions?

 

God Loves Pedophiles, Too

Hello everyone. Today I’m going to speak on another topic which revolves around sexuality. I have mentioned it before, and God has placed it on my heart (very heavily) to work against the condemnation that is heaped onto these individuals. I want to work with Jesus to break this spirit of condemnation that so many Christians feel is okay and even righteous in this particular situation. I’m talking about pedophilia and child molestation. Yes, I mean it.

If you’ve read my previous posts all the way back to my earliest ones, then you should know that I have experienced sexual abuse in my childhood. So, I am speaking from experience here. As Christians it is not okay for us to condemn pedophiles and child molesters. I know this will probably shock a lot of readers (if not everyone who reads this). For people who have children I acknowledge that your love for your children is very strong and that even the thought of somebody doing something evil to them is likely revolting to you. However, this does not mean that it is okay to condemn anyone who does such things. Here is why I say this:

I believe that it is important for us to be careful not to encourage our children to withhold forgiveness from others because of how they see us treating those who hurt them. That could prevent them from finding peace and cause their suffering to last throughout their entire lives. In my struggle with homosexuality, sexual abuse and lust, I have found that people look at sexual abuse/immorality/impurity as reason to cast judgement and condemnation on others. This is not righteousness. I would like to point out Romans 12:17-21. It is not our job to take vengeance. It is our job to operate under the new covenant of Jesus Christ, under which there is no condemnation. Romans 8:1 Now, probably those who molest children are not in Christ Jesus (Although we cannot be certain. Who among us can say that we who are in Christ Jesus do not commit sins any more?), but we must still be kind to our enemies. “Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21

I have found that there are still many people who allow their emotional reactions to such things to control what they say and do. I once saw a picture on Facebook with a vicious dog in the top cut, and a man in an orange jumpsuit sitting between two lawyers in the bottom cut. The text on this picture read: “When a dog attacks a child and scars them for life the dog is put to sleep. Shouldn’t we do the same to Pedophiles?”, and in the comment section I see message after message of “Yes!” and even “Amen!” I then see message after message of “Torture them first” or “Make them feel what they made the kids feel!” I honestly believe that this is a very selfish standpoint. I believe this is a mindset that places one’s own desire to have immediate satisfaction in terms of justice and revenge as a higher priority than a child’s complete healing so that they may one day gain permanent psychological well-being. If we cannot forgive, we cannot forget. If we cannot forget, we cannot move on. I still remember what happened to me, but thanks be to God I have long forgotten the pain and confusion that was a result of the abuse. God has let me forget my troubles. (We actually got a dog from my uncle who was named Manasseh, which is what Joseph named one of his sons because “God [made him] forget all [his] trouble…” Genesis 41:51. I think that’s pretty cool.)

I have seen a few people quote Matthew 18:6 to support their desire to kill and even torture those who molest children. Well, here’s what I have to say to that. If we cause a child to withhold forgiveness because of how they see us treating those who hurt them, aren’t we causing them to stumble, too? If this is true, then any child caught in such a situation would be caused to stumble twice over the same matter. This is not progress. It’s actually a step backwards. I sometimes wonder if perhaps we stopped condemning pedophiles, but instead taught our children to forgive them, we might see a generation rise up that feels totally clean and pure even if they’ve experienced sexual abuse. For it was when I forgave that the end of my suffering and confusion began. It was when I truly forgave, not only in my heart but through confession of my lips as well, that I was able to begin the deeper healing process with Jesus. Allowing a child to begin deeper healing with Jesus is a higher priority than justice through vengeance in my books. I could be wrong, but if we can teach a child to forgive and walk with Jesus in their pain and suffering, than nothing in this life can hold them down even if they are made to stumble.

James 3:13-18

I was once bitter and unforgiving against the one who abused me. However, God was not pleased with my bitter and unforgiving heart, nor did he approve when my desire to take justice and vengeance into my own hands rose up in my heart. I realized that because Jesus does not bind me to my sin, I have no right to bind anyone to theirs, no matter how it might offend my human sensibilities (which are probably flawed). Not even I have any right to condemn a pedophile or child molester.

Jesus came to save ANYONE who would believe in him, right? Anyone. No matter what they’ve done. What message are we sending to pedophiles in this day and age? Most of us send the message that they cannot be saved, and they cannot be forgiven. What then will Jesus say when we are standing before him? Will he ask us, “Why did you place a stumbling block for those people? Why did you speak in a way that stopped them from being saved? Do you not know that I died for them, too? Does my sacrifice mean so little to you? Do you not know that my blood was shed for them just as much as it was shed for you?” Do we have so little respect for Christ’s suffering that we do not care that his wounds were for pedophiles, too?

As Christians, it is our duty to continue Christ’s ministry, and open a way for the Holy Spirit to impart truth to the world. We have really nailed in the truth that they have sinned, but have we balanced it with the truth that they can be forgiven? Not with pedophiles we haven’t. With pedophiles all we say is that they have sinned. Very few are willing to say that they can be forgiven.  Is that what we wish for? Do we wish for those who have molested children not to be forgiven? I believe that is selfish. I believe that dishonours Christ’s suffering. As much as many of us don’t want to think about it, they were made in the image of God, too. Just like us.

God loves them, too.

So, what message will we send to pedophiles the next time an opportunity to speak on the topic comes? Will we use partial, worldly, and even demonic wisdom to satisfy our own (often perverse) desire for justice? Or will we be quiet in spirit, and wait for the Holy Spirit to prompt us to open a way for them to hear the gospel. They can be forgiven, perhaps we should let them know. The blood of Christ can cleans us, and it can cleanse them, too.

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.” Colossians 1:15-16 All things includes all things, which includes pedophiles. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and it’s not up to us to rank who fell farther. It’s up to us to help each other find our way back, and to do so under the authority of Jesus. Let’s stop robbing Jesus of the people he died for because of our own selfish ambitions and bitterness. How about we speak life to everyone, even when it’s hard to? That’s what Jesus came to do.

And for those that say pedophiles cannot change, perhaps remember Matthew 19:26,

“Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'” (Again I will say, all things includes all things.)

And Proverbs 3:5-6,

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

How much faith do we put in Jesus, and how much faith do we put in our own understanding?

Well, that’s all I have to say for now. Thank you for reading my blog. 🙂

God Took My World Apart

I finally get to talk about the very thing that I wanted to share when I first started this blog! I have wanted to share this right from the start, it was the reason I began writing here, and now God has given me permission to share this.

A couple years ago (maybe even longer) I was listening to a song by Jars of Clay called Worlds Apart. It was a Sunday morning and I was taking a walk through the town before heading off to Church. I remember that I was in the elementary school park, and I was swinging on the swing set as I listened to this song on my MP 3 player. I sang along with it as I thought about the lyrics, and I think the Holy Spirit nudged me. I think the Holy Spirit took that moment to begin the process of changing my heart. So, I kind of made that song my prayer. I asked God to take my world apart. I told Him to take everything apart so that I would let go of the delusions that I could somehow hold myself together. I was imagining a broken up landscape being held together by bungee cords as I prayed this. I asked God to take it all apart so that only rock and rubble would be left, and when that is all I have to look at, I will see that Jesus is all that is truly worth looking at. Jesus will be all that’s left to see.

Well, He answered my prayer, and His answer was not a quick answer. Oh, He answered my prayer right away. He began working as soon as my heart uttered the prayer, but His work took a long time to complete. So, guess what God had to do to begin His work. He had to remove the bungee cords. Oh yes, the ground beneath me began to break and tumble as the only means I had to keep it from moving and shaking was being taken away. I had to face my brokenness. I couldn’t pretend that it wasn’t there anymore. I couldn’t look at my sin and call it by another name, because God was making it all very clear to me.

I suppose everything I’ve written so far is everything that has come to my attentions as God was taking away all the extra things in my life; all the thing that He didn’t put there. Perhaps that’s why God has not given me permission to write this until now. Perhaps He wanted me to share everything that was a result of it first. Well, about five months ago I randomly messaged my fiance this sentence; “I think the dust is settling.” I said this to myself one day and for split second it kind of confused me. I do that sometimes. Like a few years ago in church I heard my own voice in my head say, “My rebellion is over.” I was confused for a moment, and then I felt relief. Something had ended in me in that moment, something which God had been working on for a long time, and something in me was announcing it to the rest of me. So, God has taken my world apart and now the dust has settled. The work is done. Time to look at Jesus more clearly.

Thank you Lord for completing this work in me. Time to move on to the next job, whatever that might be.

Thank you for reading my blog! 🙂

Who or What Is Our Master?

(If there are any children reading this please stop and let your parent(s) or guardian(s) read it first.)

There is one thing that annoys me above all other things in the controversy over homosexuality. There is one thing that makes me want to continue sharing what I have learned, even if some may not like it. I’m actually a little afraid to share this, but I think it needs to be said.

I’ve read a few articles concerning advice given to people trying to figure out how to deal with homosexuality (whether in themselves or with someone else). The one that I will specifically share was posted throughout the internet in November of 2013. It is an Ask Amy article called Parent pressures gay son to change. This article makes me angry for a couple reasons.

I will begin by saying that the parent’s entire letter irritated me. However, Amy’s response, though having some wise points, had a statement that irks me just as much as the parent’s whole letter. After suggesting that this parent undergoes sexual orientation change to teach her son how easy it is (obviously sarcasm), she says this: “I assume that my suggestion will evoke a reaction that your sexuality is at the core of who you are.” This fills me with anger. Any time I see or hear someone saying of another’s sexual orientation, “It’s who you are” or “Don’t suppress your true self”, I become literally hot with rage. I have chosen not to speak on this specifically until now because I try not to let my emotions run me or dictate my values. However, I think the time to speak of it has come.

The reason I hate such statements is because they are oppression disguised as liberation. If you say to someone that their sexuality is who they are, or that it’s their true self, you are basically saying to them that on some level, sex is their master. You are telling them that they are a slave to their sexuality. I believe that this is the worst form of oppression. This teaches people that they cannot master their own thoughts, they cannot master their own feelings, and that they cannot even master what they do with their thoughts and feelings. That is not empowerment. I believe that it teaches people to oppress themselves.

If I cannot master my own body, then I am truly a pathetic creature. If I cannot even say to myself, “I will keep control of my body. I will not be enslaved by my own desires,” then I am no better than a dog who chooses not to discern between its food and its feces. Such a creature requires a better master than its own self. I require a better master than my own self; one who can teach me to master my own body. That master is Jesus, and he has already done this for me in great measure.

I know that homosexuality is a heated topic right now, and I am not writing about it so that I can get in on the controversy. I don’t want to single it out, but it’s something I have personal knowledge about, so that’s why I talk about it. I’m not sharing my experiences and understandings of it because I believe that I’m morally superior and better than everyone else, and I don’t write in complete oblivion to the fact that there are actual human beings who might read it. I don’t share these things because I believe that I should be able to dictate what other people do with their bodies; I have no intention of making anyone a slave to any form of sexuality. I actually want the opposite to happen.

Whether you struggle with adultery, bestiality, fornication, homosexuality, lust, masturbation, necrophilia, pedophilia or pornography (notice that these terms are in alphabetical order, to make it clear that I am not ranking them), if you have been saved by Jesus Christ then sex is no longer your master. You are no longer a slave to sexuality, and you do not have to behave as if you are.

This doesn’t just apply to sexuality. I speak the most on this topic because it is what I have struggled with the most, and Jesus has brought me through and given me victory over it. Because of this I believe that I have more authority to speak on this specific part of life than I have to speak on anything else. Part of the reason I’m afraid to talk about this is because so many Christians have tried to have strong opinions about this matter when they had little or no authority to, and have thus made Christianity look like an obsession with the morality or immorality of sexual behavior, which it’s not. I don’t want to add to that, but the fact of the matter is that I cannot share my testimony without talking a lot about the morality or immorality of sexual behavior. So, I would like to be so bold as to speak briefly on other topics which I have some authority in as well, in the regard of oppression and liberation.

If you have been saved by Jesus Christ, than you have the power to change and be completely transformed through Him. Therefore, you are not a slave to depression. You are not a slave to laziness. You are not a slave to loneliness. You are not a slave to food. You are not a slave to your appearance. You are not a slave to human expectations. You are not a slave to the media. You are not a slave to gossip. You are not a slave to anger. You are a not a slave to envy. You are not a slave to bad dreams or nightmares. You are not a slave to sleepless nights. You are not a slave to fear. You are not a slave to pride. You are not a slave to shame. You are not a slave to hopelessness. You are not a slave to regret.

This is what my major turning point was. I named my perceived master – that which my flesh was content in being a slave to – and then I rebuked my flesh. I claimed Jesus as my master. I am not a slave to sin but to righteousness. Please do not let your flesh say, “This is stupid.” Instead let your spirit rise up and proclaim that you are NOT a slave to ANY of the ways of this world.

Thank you for reading my blog. 🙂

Romans 12:2

Romans 6

Galatians 4:1-9

Matthew 6:24

2 Corinthians 10:4-5

 Greg Sczebel – Good Fight 

My Identity: Part One

God has given me my identity. In a world where people are constantly inventing their own identities and are telling others what their identities should be, God gave me my identity according to his grace and wisdom.

First is the identity that all Christians have; children of God who have been brought back into His family by the blood of Jesus Christ. We are Citizens of Heaven. We are co-heirs with Christ through partaking in his suffering. We are new creations, and so much more! Neil T. Anderson has listed many other pieces of our identity in Christ in his book Victory Over The Darkness, which is helping me to understand the scriptural truths of my identity in Christ.

But that’s not all. God has also given me pieces of my own personal identity in His Kingdom. Having struggled with homosexuality during a time when one’s sexual orientation is made out to be a crucially defining characteristic of one’s identity, my own sense of identity (and thus my sense of purpose) became one of my weak points. This is exactly how God showed me one of the ways He likes to work. He likes to take our weaknesses and turn them into strengths in ways that we never could have done without Him.

Let me begin by telling you about the first experience I had in receiving a piece of my identity according to God. I was in high school, and one night at Youth Group the Youth Pastor’s wife shared with us that God has a name for her. A special name.

Her name is Laughter.

Before she began speaking and everyone was chatting, she laughed at something someone said, and one of the other kids piped up and said, “Oh I love her laugh!” and said something about how unique or special her laughter is. During her talk the Youth Pastor’s wife made note of that. That little piece of confirmation said in passing was a personal confirmation of her identity, spoken through an unlikely bystander.

Well, after that, I started asking God to reveal what His name for me is. A few months later, I was walking around the church before the service started and looking out the windows. It was a dark and cloudy day; gray and gloomy. I thought to myself, “I feel like those clouds; gray and gloomy.” This was during the time when I was struggling with depression. Then, as I was walking downstairs I bumped into the Pastor, and he said “Good morning, Sunshine!” and that just stopped me dead in my tracks. He smiled and continued on his way after I said good morning back, and through the rest of the day I thought about that statement. It just hit me so hard. I didn’t feel like sunshine that day. I felt quite opposite to sunshine.

After a while I felt God pressing on my heart that there was a reason why my Pastor greeted me like that. Although the Pastor later said he greeted me like that because he thought my yellow shoes looked sunshiny, God pressed on my heart that he noticed that specific detail for a specific reason. He saw the essence of who and what God created me to be even when I wasn’t living it. It was my name. It was God’s name for me; His title for my design.

Sunshine.

That was the first unveiling of God’s special identity for me. The common identity that all Christians have in Christ is the foundation of my identity, which is critically important and cannot be replaced. My name from Him is a sweet little bonus which helps me to understand in a deeper way who I am in Christ and in the Kingdom of God. God is making my weakness into my strength, and will continue to do so until His work in me is complete.

Thank you for reading my blog.

God bless you. 🙂