Friday, December 28, 2007

Curiosity Leads to Life

This is a quote I heard in a sermon a while back and have been pondering it ever since. For the last several weeks I have felt a sense of plateauing in my spiritual life. When I first rediscovered my passion for Jesus Christ I felt as a small child, that everything was different, new, and exciting, and then I plateaued.

One of my frustrations with friendships is when it becomes one sided, you are the only one putting anything into it. At first all is going well and then after a time you feel as though you've discovered everything there is to know about the person and all of a sudden the friendship begins to dissipate, to dissolve as it were. All of a sudden you are the only one putting any time and energy into the friendship. I actually had a relationship like this once. I always felt more or less like a burden, like he'd rather be doing anything else but spend time with me. I wonder sometimes if Christ doesn't feel the same way about my relationship with Him?

Curiosity leads to life. Can this be true of one's spiritual life? For me to have a meaningful, joyful spiritual life it would make sense that it would require a certain amount of curiosity. We are called to have child like faith. Have you ever watched a group of children? They are full of curiosity, everything is different for them, and they are excited by it.

Unfortunately I as an adult tend to get sidetracked by other things in my life and lose my sense of curiosity, awe and admiration of my God. A relationship with God becomes another duty I have to perform. Nothing terribly special. So I wonder then, if I intend to have a meaningful and joyful spiritual would not require at least a certain amount of input on my part? Does it not also require a sense of curiosity, almost of expectancy, what is God going to teach me today?

Unconditional Love

I've always had a little bit of a problem with the concept of unconditional love. Not so much believing it exists, more accepting it to be true for my self. It is hard for me to fathom why anyone, or any god, let alone the God, would love me unconditionally.

Scripture states in Romans "there is none righteous, no note one." I suppose it is for this reason that I feel as though I must somehow earn unconditional love. However, if in fact it were possible to earn unconditional love, it would no longer be unconditional. Working for something places a condition on it.

So I guess for me the question isn't so much does unconditional love exist, but how do I accept unconditional love? This is a kind of love I am not used to receiving. This is Christ like love that doesn't care how much I screw up, it is still there. The kind of love that I am use to seeing is an if then kind of love, if you do these things then I will receive the kind of love I so desperately desire.

Yet once again it relates to the need for approval. I often make the mistake of confusing the two because in my mind the two are the same. Approval equals love. I know this is not the case, but it is something my mind has difficulty separating. So here's the thing, how does one separate these things?

Consensus Belief System

Typically I sing tenor, however for church I am singing alto. I have a bit of a strange method when I sing for choir, I must be surrounded by loud voices. I do this because when I sing in choir, I follow whoever is loudest regardless of whether or not they sing my part.

As I was singing in choir tonight I realized how similar this is to the way I live my life. When it comes to how I act and what I believe, I tend to follow whoever is loudest. Unfortunately this has led to me where I am currently.

I tend to live by consensus. Confidence is a non issue. I can be confident in something, but if I think someone will be offended or in any way give indication that they disapprove I do one of two things, hide it all together, or make a strong attempt to.

I'm reminded of the scene from the movie Runaway Bride. I seem to come back to this movie a lot. Anyway, the scene is about the middle of the movie when Ike accuse Maggie of not having a mind of her own. In a nutshell, he has just described me.

Fact is, I don't have a mind of my own. My mind is shaped by those around me. The annoying thing is that I want desperately to have a mind of my own. So how do I find my own mind, while still having the mind of Christ?

G. R. O. W.

Ok so you're probably wondering why these letters are capitalized and seem to be some kind of abbreviation for something. Part of my training through Child Evangelism Fellowship included training in using the Wordless Book. The last page of the Wordless Book is the green page. When you teach it, the dialogue goes something like this

"Now that you've accepted Jesus as your saviour there's a few things he wants us to do help us get to know him better. This green page reminds me of that, it reminds me that I need to GROW. Because the Bible says that we need to "grow in the grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." Now on this page there are four corners, and there are four letters to the word grow, so each letter reminds me of something I need to do in order to grow in the knowledge of God. G stands for Going to church, R stands for Reading the Bible, O stands for Obeying God's word and your parents (parents obviously love this one), and W is kind of a big word but it stands for witnessing, which means telling other's about the love of God."

obviously that's a quick version of how one would teach the green page, but there you have it. So why am I going off about some page in some book that you really don't care about? Over the last month and a half I have made immense progress, leaps and bounds. When I think about where I was not that long ago, and where I am now in my spiritual life I am grateful and amazed at the saving power of a loving savior. However, it would seem that my spiritual life has once again plateaued. Now I don't mean that I have lapsed into sin or anything like that, what I mean is that I am no longer seeing any tangible evidence of growth. So what am I doing wrong, and how do I fix it without becoming a legalistic Christian? Part of the problem with me is that so much of the time these things that I have mentioned as being tools of growth were held up as a legalistic standard that if one didn't partake in, one would be considered a heretic and shunned. I'm not kidding you. I remember on one occasion getting in trouble at a school I went to because I was doing my devotions in the evening, rather than the morning, because I have issues getting up early enough in the morning. So I guess what I keep coming back to is how important are these rituals that Christians are required to go through? And, is it possible to be a joyful Christian 100% of the time?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Quest Continues

Today marks one month from the two by four God sent to the back of my head. Indeed it was exactly one month ago that I saw where the road I was going down would eventually take me. Within the last month God has brought me to a level of intimacy I never dreamed possible. In many ways I feel like a small child, everything is new, different, exciting. God is still in the process of revealing who I am as a child of God. There is much still that is uncertain, however there is much also for which I am certain. These are things I know for certain, these are also the things from which I have spent may years in hiding.

1. I am a follower of Jesus Christ who is the passionate lover of my heart, my soul, and my mind. This is something from which, for the last six months, I have been fleeing. I remember literally saying “I graduated from Corban College. Please don’t hold that against me, I am not one of them.” I was horrified when it was brought to my attention only a few weeks ago that denying the followers of Christ was the same as denying Jesus Christ Himself. “When he had gone out to the gateway, another servant-girl saw him and said to those who were there, "This man was with Jesus of Nazareth." And again he denied it with an oath, "I do not know the man." A little later the bystanders came up and said to Peter, "Surely you too are one of them; for even the way you talk gives you away." Then he began to curse and swear, "I do not know the man!" And immediately a rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said," Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times." And he went out and wept bitterly.” (Matthew 26:71-75 NASB).
I have grown up hearing nothing but how much God will judge me if I screw up. It has only been within the last several weeks that I have truly come to know how much of a loving God I serve. I am ever more becoming of the opinion that after one has embraced the love of Jesus Christ, Christians need to stop beating people over the head with the judgement of God. Jesus looked past the fault and saw to the need, would it not be better if we did the same?

2. I am female. I realize that in stating this many of you are sitting there going “DUH,” however, I have grown up believe that women in the church must be perfect. To me, being a Christian woman meant being the stereotypical mild tempered, quiet, definitely not outspoken, doormat of a woman. As you all are my friends it won’t take long before you realize I by NO MEANS fit this stereotype. I am loud, opinionated, strong willed, definitely not a doormat. After several years of attempting to meet the stereotype and failing abysmally I finally hit a point where I pretty much said “screw it, I don’t fit the stereotype, why bother trying?” It has only been in the last month that I have come to realize I can be loud, opinionated, strong willed, and still be used of God. Thank God for his grace.

3. I graduated from being homeschooled in 2002. I have been running from this for the last three years. Attempting to cover up the fact that I was sheltered, extremely sheltered. Never realizing that this sheltering, was in fact a good thing. From what I have seen of the world, I am learning to embrace the shelterdness of my up bringing, in fact I have come to regard it as a good thing. I have come to see that not everything in the world is a good thing. That being said I have come to embrace the fact that I am sheltered and very grateful for being sheltered.

I am still discovering more about who I am, and who God wants me to be. As I do continue on my quest for my identity, I will continue to post. When you need to worry is when I quit writing. God is showing me new and wonderful things every day as I learn to embrace his love. I am excited to see what He continues to have in store for me.

Saturday, September 29, 2007


A friend of mine was teasing me today when she said that I needed to get a job if for the sole fact that I have been thinking too much and need to find something else to do. It's true, one of the things about not having a job is that you sit on your but alone with your computer and all you can do is think and write. Out of that come my rants. I've been pondering a lot of things lately, more like a lot of the extreme Christianity that I grew up with. For a little background, I was homeschooled, very conservatively homeschooled. I do my best to hide it and in fact I do not reveal this fact very often. In the last few days I have realized that I am in fact ashamed of being homeschooled. The reason I am ashamed of being homeschooled is that I care too much what others will think. I fear being judged simply because I am an ex-homeschooler. Truth be told there are few social inadequacies that have come as a result of being homeschooled, but I think they are so indistinct most people wouldn't know unless I told you. At least that's the theory I've deluded myself into thinking. I began to analyze though, why am I ashamed of being homeschooled? It has I think more to do with the stereotype than anything else. Think about it, homeschoolers have a stereotype for being socially awkward, nerdy individuals that have no clue how to hold a conversation. Therefore I come to the same conclusion I made earlier, I am ashamed of being homeschooled because I am afraid of being judged on the basis that I was in fact homeschooled.
As I was thinking about this I began to make some comparisons to Christianity. There is a scripture that says "For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ..." To be honest, I struggle with this passage. I preach against holding a judgemental attitude and Christian hypocrisy. In certain social circles I really don't like calling myself a Christian, in fact I'd rather hide and skirt around the issue if I can. I began to think about it and analyze why it was I am so apparently ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. It occurred to me that it was not in fact the Gospel of Christ that I was ashamed of but rather the Gospel of Christianity. There is a difference. In fact, if most Christians would live by the Gospel of Christ, I think there would be more Christians in existence. Fact of the matter is, the Gospel of Christianity preaches legalism, and spiritual superiority. Not at all something with which I want to identify myself. In contrast the Gospel of Christ preaches love and acceptance, judgement yes, but first and foremost relationships. In many of the cases where Jesus told the person to go and sin no more he began by establishing a relationship. For instance with the Woman at the Well. He reached out to her by asking her for a drink of water which is something that a male jew would not normally do with even a Hebrew woman. In this manner he began to interact with her and establish something of a relationship with her before he told her to go and sin no more. Another example where Jesus was hesitant to condemn is the situation with the adulterous woman. This was a situation where Jesus told the crowd "He who is without sin, let him be the first to cast the stone." When no one cast the first stone and the crowd dispersed Jesus asked the woman where her accusers were and upon seeing there was no one he told her "Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more." (John 8:3-10)
This is what I believe to be the Gospel of Christ. From what I can tell the Gospel of Christianity has turned into the Gospel of the Pharisees, not exactly someone I'd want to be party to. In conclusion then, I would say that I can truthfully say I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, it is in fact his followers of whom I frequently find myself ashamed. In much the same manner it is not so much being homeschooled that I am ashamed of so much as it is others who have been homeschooled and created a bad name for it. There I would ask you who call yourselves Christians to remember that you are representing the name of Jesus Christ and as such at least make an attempt to live by his word.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Frustrations X2 (Follow up to frustrations)

For the purposes of this post I am not even going to discuss the issue of whether or not being gay or lesbian is a sin because where one might stand on that issue has no bearing on how people, particularly Christians, should treat those who are gay. i would like to take a moment and define a term, the term is judgement. When I think of the word judgement I think of Christians looking down their long thin noses and completely shunning any one person who does not live in the same manner as they do. This is what I believe to be wrong. We have no right to pretend be holier than thou because fact of the matter is we are all sinners, therefore it ought to be our duty to make an attempt to show the love Christ to people with whom we may not necessarily agree. It is NOT our job to sit around and make fun of those people we think are living in sin. It is in fact more important to show them the love of Christ
Another term I would like to discuss for a moment is condemnation. This is something else I believe to be wrong. It is God's job to condemn, not ours. So again i would say it is more important to show the love of Christ rather than condemn those who are sinners. It bothers me that Christians are so prone to condemnation. Scripture tells us to speak the truth in love, we have the speaking truth part down pat, however somewhere in there we have lost doing it in love. If one looks at the life of Jesus Christ one will realize that the people he chose to associate with were not exactly perfect people. One example is the woman at the well. This was a situation where he told the woman to go and sin no more. We have no record of what her life was like after her encounter with Christ, it is very possible that she fell back into sin. However, we also do not have any record of Christ going back to check up on her. It is the same with people who are gay, if one wishes to make it clear where they stand on the issue that is fine. What I object to is rubbing their faces in it and using the fact that you are straight to make oneself superior. This is what I believe to be wrong. This is an issue of the log and the splinter in your eye. Christ very clearly tells us to get the log out of our own eye before getting the splinter out of someone elses eye. In other words, be aware of the fact that you have sin in your life that may look like a log to others. Therefore proceed with caution when making your views known.
Another issue that came up in the previous post was the claim that gay people make fun of themselves therefore it is ok for us to do so as well. This is totally and completely not true. For starters the people that I know who are gay do not make fun of themselves and furthermore it is an issue of prerogative. Going back to the issue of Nerd Day, I make fun of myself for being a nerd but do not appreciate when others make fun of me for the same reason. It's similar to the situation with siblings. I have an older sister, typically younger sibling I picked on my older sister but if anyone else picked on my older sister there was hell to pay. Another issue here that ought to be raised is the question of right vs. edifying. I would not ask the question is it right that I do this, but rather is it edifying for the other person? Since there are people who find it offensive to make fun of people who are gay I would say no, it is not edifying therefore it is no longer right.
Secondly the issue was raised that those Christians who do make fun of gay people are in fact accurate in their interpretations, this is a non-issue because they shouldn't be making fun of gay people in the first place. Again it is a question of edification rather than accuracy. Am I being edifying to myself and the others around me by making fun of gay people?
It is more important to me that I build a relationship with my friends who are gay, and as the relationship grows yes my views will come out, however I am not about to go beating them upside the head with my views on the subject matter. I've never been a huge fan of the beating the bible over the head method of evangelism. My experience has been that it is more often than not alienating to the other individual. I am much more inclined to build a relationship first and thereby show the love of Christ.
There have been times when I have thought about what would happen if in fact I was lesbian. How would I be treated? It saddens me because I can predict that I would many close friends because they would no longer want anything to do with someone they felt was living in sin. This is precisely why many of the people I know reject Christianity. Therefore I would leave you with this, would it not be better to show the love of Christ rather than show a judgemental attitude?