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 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! 🙂

High School, The Holy Spirit and Homosexuality

I have seen many interpretations of the verses found in Romans Chapter 1 (specifically Romans 1:18-28) in regard to homosexuality. Some I have been able to agree with completely, some I have been able to agree with partially, and others I have not been able to agree with at all. The reason I am saying this is because the scriptures found in Romans 1 are very important to me. They are the very scriptures that God used to first convict me of my homosexual desires. It was not man kind and human philosophies that first convicted me, but God himself.

It was a timely warning that was given in the wise counsel of the Holy Spirit. I first read these scriptures in grade eight when my ex-girlfriend and I were still just friends. There was no question in my mind what the scriptures meant, nor how they were relevant to me. I had never seen those scriptures before and no one had ever quoted them to me. It was the first time those words had ever been presented to me, and it was the Holy Spirit who was pointing them out.

As I was thinking about this I realized what the major difference between convictions of the Holy Spirit and convictions of men are (in my experiences). I remembered how I felt when I first read these scriptures. I did not feel ashamed, defeated or condemned, which is often how I feel when people try to convict me of something. I actually felt quite the opposite. I felt excited and amazed. I think that inside my soul was rejoicing, and I think my spirit was crying out, “God, you care enough about me to tell me this. You have seen my iniquities and you have not left me! You know my heart better than I do, and you still want to be a part of it!” I was rejoicing in my Lord’s loving kindness. I was delighted that He counted me worthy to share in His wisdom.

However, when I shared those verses with my ex-girlfriend, she reacted very differently. I think she was actually taken aback by my enthusiasm, and sometimes I wonder if I might have even made her concerned or nervous about me. If I can recall correctly, it was not long after this that she stopped being a Christian. This confused me. I could not understand how something which excited me so much could upset her so much. Although, we had not come out to each other yet, so I didn’t have the whole picture. Of course, I’m not saying this was the one and only reason that she became an atheist, but it is the reason that I was most aware of.

Time went on and she and I, along with some other friends, hung out with each other a lot. Going into high school we were a pretty tight group, and we all really cared about each other. Then one day while I was in English Class I felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to separate myself from my group of friends. I don’t know if this was intended to be permanent or temporary, but I did not question it. Up to this point I was not in the habit of questioning God in how He lead me. It made no sense to me to question the one who knows me better than I know myself.

So, after English Class I approached my friends and told them that I couldn’t hang out with them anymore, and my ex-girlfriend’s reaction was devastating. They asked me why, and my ex-girlfriend declared, “Because we’re not good enough for her!” and then stormed out, and I’m pretty certain that she was crying. The next day she didn’t come to school, and we were all worried about her. I was torn. I knew what God was asking me to do, and I didn’t want to disobey Him, but I didn’t want to hurt my friends either.

On the day that my ex-girlfriend didn’t come in we had a substitute teacher for English Class, and she was a devout Christian. Seriously. She spent the entire class talking about God and how everything we do has a ripple effect. I don’t know if it was in God’s plan to send someone that day who would spend an hour sharing things that made me feel comfortable to open up to her about my spiritual life, but that’s sure what she did. After class I approached her and started talking to her, and although I don’t remember much of what was said, I remember that she smiled kindly and sincerely, I cried for nearly the entire lunch hour, and she told me that “It’s obvious you care about her”. That has stuck with me for a long time, because for a long time I was afraid that I was just heartless.

That day, despite my conversation with this lovely and mature woman of God, I made one of the worst decisions of my life. I chose to deliberately ignore the Holy Spirit and disobey God, and when I went to my next class I apologized to my other friends and made up. I’m not saying that my friends were bad people who didn’t deserve to have me as a friend. No. I loved my friends, and I still do, but my obedience to God should never have taken second place to anything or anyone.

My friends and I went to my ex-girlfriend’s house after school to see how she was doing, and then I made up with her too. If I can recall correctly, it was not long after this that we came out to each other. It was over the phone, and after we both told each other that we were lesbians, I felt a strange mix of pride and comfort. After we were done talking to each other and we hung up, God’s spirit fell heavily on me. I could feel the weight of the Holy Spirit pressing heavily on my heart. Like, HEAVY.

I knew that what I wanted was dishonorable to Him, and He knew that I knew that what I wanted was dishonorable to Him. This is what it feels like was going on in that moment:

God was saying, “You know my truth. I have already revealed it to you.”

Satan was already creeping into the situation and saying, “It’s just who you are. There’s no other choice. It’s just who you are. There’s no other choice. There’s no other choice. There’s no other choice.

My flesh was giving into Satan and saying, “Yeah, you know what? It really is who I am. It’s just who I am. It really does feel like there’s no other choice.”

And then my spirit chimed in saying, “No! You can’t reject God’s truth! Please, don’t reject God’s truth! Please, you need His good counsel! You need His wisdom! You need His truth! You can’t reject God’s truth and expect anything good to come of it!”

The weight of it all was so great that I literally could not stand. I lay on the ground as I tried to process it all, but in my heart I was already allowing Satan to win. I was already allowing my fleshly nature to become dominant. All I could think about in that moment was how much I wanted her, and how much I didn’t want to hurt her, so I rejected it all. All of it. Everything. I gave in to myself. I gave in to my own flesh. I didn’t know how to balance the relationship I had with God and the relationship I wanted to have with her, and the fact of the matter is that I couldn’t. It just wouldn’t work, so I silenced my spirit and told God to leave me alone, and Satan just got quiet without being told. I am now convinced that he was pretending to co-operate so that I would keep my guard down. God backed off and let me make my own choice in the matter, but He never gave up on me. My spirit remained quiet for a long time, but it was still alive so it remained alert.

That was the absolute worst choice of my life. Ever.

If I can recall correctly, it was not long after this that she and I started dating. I cannot recall much about this time, but I must have still talked about God. I don’t know how much I talked about Him or Christianity, or possibly even my parents’ views, but apparently I talked about Him enough for her to say this, “You don’t need God to be complete, you know.”

This is how I know that my spirit was still alert, because when she said this my spirit rose up and spoke. It said, quietly yet assuredly, “Yes, I do. I am His very breath. I need Him. I am His very breath. I need Him. I am His very breath. I need Him.”

This is probably the reason why I cried the first time I sang the song Great Are You Lord in church.

This is all that I will write for now. Thank you for reading my blog. 🙂 God bless you.

Rehabilitation and Discipleship

“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 am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Mathew 28:19-20

Have you ever watched The Dog Whisperer? Have you ever adopted a rescue dog? If you’ve done either, then you probably understand a thing or two about rehabilitation. One of my favourite episodes of The Dog Whisperer is one in which Cesar Millan brings his well-trained Pit bull, Daddy, to help rehabilitate another dog. (I tried to find it on YouTube, but I couldn’t. And yes, I know that episode description is incredibly vague, but I couldn’t find any specific episodes, or think of what the specific episode was. I know that it was an episode though! XD )

This makes me think of a time when my dogs helped to rehabilitate my friend’s dog. My friend adopted a rescue dog a while back and named her Emma. I don’t know what kind of a home Emma was rescued from, but she seemed like she was very neglected. So neglected in fact, that when my friend fed her healthy portions of food, Emma couldn’t digest it properly. Her body literally did not know what to do with it. The way the vet put it was that her body had been malnourished for so long that her cells were clinging onto the food particles and letting very little pass through her system.

She wouldn’t run and play with the kids. She would cuddle (oh she loves to cuddle), and she loved when people would pet her and give her treats, but other than that she just didn’t know how to be a dog.

For months my friend and her family tried to get the dog to play, but she just wouldn’t. One day we decided to bring over our rescue dog, Selena. We had her for years, and even though she had a lot of anxiety when we first got her, she eventually became a very balanced dog. Their little play date went great! Selena didn’t mind that Emma didn’t know how to play. She was perfectly content to sniff things and hang out with Emma, which meant no stress for Emma. It was a perfect introduction into dog-hood.

However, Emma still didn’t know how to play. So a while later we brought our dog Manasseh over, and after he investigated his surroundings and found some lose pieces of kibble around Emma’s dish, we brought them out to the back yard to play. Emma immediately laid down on the grass while Manasseh sniffed around the yard. After he was satisfied with his investigation he ran back to Emma. He was not content to just hang out. He wanted to play, and he was determined to play with Emma. He spent an hour pulling on her collar, shoving toys in her face, running around her with a stick in his mouth, and taking brief moments here and there to lay down and whimper at her. (More like whine at her.)

Finally, Emma decided to try playing like a dog. She got up and timidly attempted to wrestle with Manasseh, and when my friend saw this she said, “Good Girl!” and encouraged Emma to try playing some more. Suddenly Emma’s disposition changed. She perked up and pounced on Manasseh, then jumped back wagging her tail. She still didn’t fully understand play, but she was ready to learn, and Manasseh was all geared up to teach her.

Before long Emma and Manasseh were chasing each other around the yard, and Emma even played fetch with me. My friend was so happy and touched that she looked like she was going to cry. To me this was a very simple picture of discipleship. Some people need a kind of discipleship that is relaxed and easy-going, and others need a kind of discipleship that is irritatingly persistent. Some need both, and others need something in between.

The most important part of discipleship though, is the new master. Trying to disciple someone who is not saved is like trying to rehabilitate a dog that still spends each day with an abusive master. It’s ineffective. Whatever progress that might be made will likely be undone when you have to go elsewhere to do other things. Think about what made Emma drastically change. It was when my friend said “Good girl!” and encouraged her. She changed when her new master told her what was good. Her disposition did a 180 when her new master encouraged her attempts to play. The new master is crucial. We can make all the attempts of discipleship we want, but unless whomever we are trying to disciple doesn’t already have Jesus, no real change is going to occur, because their flesh (or even Satan) will still have power in that person’s life. No rescue organization will try to rehabilitate a dog that hasn’t been rescued yet, right? Rescue first, rehabilitate second. A new master is crucial.

Slaves to Righteousness

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:15-23

Thank you for reading my blog. 🙂

My Identity: Part Two

You know my name. Sunshine. 🙂

If you read the first post of this blog you know three pieces of my spiritual personality; Springbok, Mountain Sheep, and beautiful child of God (running on the hillside). 🙂

But wait, there’s more! One day at church when my Uncle C was encouraging us to learn about our spiritual personalities and to encourage others in theirs, two women came to encourage me. The first women was a very lovely lady whom once hosted a silent retreat which I attended, and she told me that she saw a Gazelle leaping on the mountain tops. Then my mother came to me and told me that she saw me as a fawn who likes to stay near it’s parents, and she said that in this metaphor the fawn’s parents represent God. Wow! God has given me three confirmations all revolving around the same piece of my identity. He was really driving it home. (Springbok/Gazelle/Fawn)

Another day while I was in church another lovely lady came up to me and spoke to me about waves. She talked about how when we wave a flag, there is a split second in which the flag remains still in mid-air. She said that even waves on the ocean do that. She said that I’m like a wave. Then, another day while I was in worship some women came to pray over me and encourage me, and during that my mom approached me and showed me the flag she was holding. It was a flag that was cut to look wavy, and on it were the words “Waves of Mercy, Waves of Grace.” She reminded me that my name, Anaisa, means “mercy, grace, and prayer”, and told me that she and my dad decided quickly on that name. She said that she believed God intended for me to have that name. God was piling on the coincidences to drive my identity home.

Also, last week I remembered what my middle name means. Helene, which is a form of Helen, means “God’s little light”. God’s name for me is Sunshine, and my middle name just happens to mean “God’s little light”. So many coincidences! So many confirmations!

For a while I was debating with myself whether or not I should post this. It seemed so arrogant to just talk about my identity, but I’m not just talking about me. I’m talking about how God works tirelessly to tell me what He wants me to know. To carry on to completion the good work He started in me. (Philippians 1:6)

Glory be to God in the Highest.

Thank you for reading my blog. 🙂

Our Dwindling Armory – Part 1: The Fear of God

Faith and hope in God, love for God and fear of God. These are a child’s most powerful assets and defenses in a world of darkness, and can continue to be their most powerful assets and weapons against an often cold and unforgiving world when they become adults, and we may be slowly destroying them.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 9:10, Job 28:28

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. Proverbs 1:7

When I was a child I feared God. I understood His power, His might and His sovereignty enough to have reverence for Him. I was never scared of Him, I just understood that His power and sovereignty are absolute and that I must respect that.

Unfortunately I have found that our culture has made having fear and being scared into the same thing. Are we perhaps teaching children to fear anything but God? If so, why? Is it because we want to teach children about His compassion, grace, mercy and love, and we think that teaching them to fear Him will contradict all that?

Well, it won’t. His wrath does not contradict His compassion, His righteousness does not contradict his grace, His justice does not contradict His mercy, and His power and sovereignty do not contradict His love. If He has compassion on all that He has made (Psalm 145:9) but Has no wrath, then His character would indeed contradict itself in the face of theft, false witness, adultery, rape, murder, etc. Sins that have victims. His grace is directly tied to His righteousness. He gives us the free gift of eternal life – which we could never earn – because he wants us to be right with Him. Mercy is irrelevant if justice is not first an option. He is sovereign in His never changing love. His sovereignty is altogether powerful and his power is altogether sovereign in His never changing love.

As a child I feared God, but I was never really scared of anything. Many of the stories that my parents tell from my child hood speak of a child who is curious, adventurous, self-assured, outgoing, compassionate, determined (often stubborn), loving, sweet and… unafraid. Like when I was still small enough to get under the fence, I would scrape my back as I squeezed under it so that I could get out of the yard and explore the world around me.

When I was three or four years old I was running around the back of the church after the service, and I ran into a glass table which cut my forehead. The cut was so deep that I needed stitches, so my mom took me to the emergency room. While the doctor was trying to put stitches in I was flailing around like mad, and two nurses had to hold me down. When the doctor finally finished up and the nurses were about to let go, my mother told them that they might want to step back once they do. According to my mother, the nurses looked at her like she was some sort of a monster. You see, the nurses thought I was struggling so much because I was scared, but my mother know me better than that. The nurses let go of me and I promptly jumped to my feet, put up my dukes and declared “You bad!!!” My mother then quickly picked me up, thanked the doctor and nurses, and left the room.

My fear of God never made me feel small and insignificant. I think it did quite the opposite. It made me feel big and important, because I knew that the God of the universe, the King of kings and Lord of lords, the almighty and all-powerful one had a special place for me in His Kingdom, and in His heart. When I was maybe 2 years old I would stand on the chair in the living room, put my hands in the air, and yell “Sooo big!” My parents have pictures of me doing that. I’m pretty sure that no one ever told me of my significance in my Heavenly Father’s eyes, and if they did I probably wouldn’t have understood. I just knew it, because I already knew God, and I feared Him.

So, why are we teaching children to be afraid? Why do we glorify and glamorize fear of anything but God on occasions like Halloween?  Why do we make a fun and exciting experience for children out of being scared of zombies, vampires, ghosts, goblins and the like? Are we trying to make them feel good about being scared of freaky things so that they’ll stay away from unsavoury situations in real life?

Is it perhaps that we fear man, creatures and circumstances so much more than we fear God that we would sooner protect children by teaching them to be scared, then by asking God to protect them when we can’t? Do we perhaps have so little respect for Christ’s authority that we do not bother to teach children that all authority in heaven and on Earth has been given to him (Matthew 28:18), and that what they need most is to trust him in their darkest times?

I feared God when I was a child, and in the times of hurt and confusion I was never afraid. I saw the world around me and never cowered away from it. I knew that God was with me, and that His power and sovereignty are absolute. I’m certainly glad the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, because God did eventually temper my youthful zeal with heavenly wisdom so that I did not go running off into unfamiliar situations unless God gave me permission to. …Usually.

Thank you for reading my blog. 🙂 God bless you.

Sooo Big Sooo Big