Category Archives: Theologicalish things

Forget doing something great. Do some good.

Y’ALL.

I’m sitting here revisiting Beth Moore’s Children of the Day study (an in-depth study of 1 and 2 Thessalonians), and I can’t even FINISH today’s lesson because you guys have to hear a portion that is so applicable to our lives (which is ironic, but more on that to come)! Please read on because this is about to burn up my fingertips before I can even get the darned thing typed.

More often than not over the past year, I’ve found myself turning to Scripture and trying to find verses that apply or relate to my situation. I’m not trying to proof-text (take Scripture out of context and isolate it to mean what I want it to mean), but I’m trying to basically force God to speak.

In reading through various social media posts from friends and friends of friends, it’s obvious that I’m not alone. But is this the right thing to do? No. We have to grow up in our faith, so to speak. This is something that a baby Christian does, and understandably so! I wouldn’t even categorize myself as a baby Christian based purely on the length of time I’ve been a baptized follower, but somewhere along the way I forgot this lesson.

“Scripture is at work in our works even when it doesn’t speak a specific word toward our tasks. That means that my morning reading could be the genealogy of Matthew 1, but I can still get up from my kitchen table better equipped as a ministry employer because the Word possesses inherent strength and shapes character. An open Bible also awakens our ears (Isa. 50:4).” (Beth Moore, Children of the Day – assume all following quotes are from this study).

From Psalm 119: 169-176, The Message Translation:

“Let my cry come right into your presence, God; provide me with the insight that comes only from your Word. Give my request your personal attention, rescue me on the terms of your promise. Let praise cascade off my lips; after all, you’ve taught me the truth about life! And let your promises ring from my tongue; every order you’ve given is right. Put your hand out and steady me since I’ve chosen to live by your counsel. I’m homesick, God, for your salvation; I love it when you show yourself! Invigorate my soul so I can praise you well, use your decrees to put iron in my soul. And should I wander off like a lost sheep – seek me! I’ll recognize the sound of your voice.”

From Beth:

     “Fellow student, God’s decrees are putting iron in our souls even when we still lack specific direction in our task. Try to resist forcing Scripture to fit or reading your situation into every verse, sermon, or devotional. An egocentric approach to Scripture – eyeing it chiefly with ourselves in mind – will throw us off course and dramatically increase our tendency to misapply it.
If we’ll ask God to fill us with the Holy Spirit as we read and study, He will alert us when He’s speaking to our situation through a precept that doesn’t blatantly fit. Our inner man will bear witness with His Spirit.
Reading in panic mode can also throw off a sound application of Scripture. It’s my least effective frame of mind for receiving direction and equipping from the Bible. That’s when I’m most apt to use the day’s Scripture reading like a crystal ball. By all means, when we’re panicked, let’s cry out to God and ask for help and tell Him how desperate we are to hear from Him. But hacking through the Scriptures with a mental machete is hazardous.
When we are in panic we end up blaming God for misdirection when we wrap the wrong word around our steering wheel. Times of fright or distress present us an opportunity to get on our faces before God and request a trade-in for trust mode. Don’t try to make Him speak. Let Him speak. He wants to, and He will when the time is right. We don’t need to put words in God’s mouth. Whatever the task at hand, it will not come down to achieving; it will come down to receiving.
These two words can be deep breath to an asthmatic soul: “calm down” (Isa. 7:4). Go for a walk and reflect on God’s goodness and faithfulness. Praise Him and profess confidence in His commitment to equip you for every good work. Quiet yourself in Him for a while. Sometimes we’ll find that we’re trying too hard. Often the equipping will follow the calming because God honors a posture of trust.”

Not reading myself into Scripture is SO HARD sometimes, and this smacked me over the head and hugged me all at the same time. But she doesn’t end there. This whole week is about our ministry to the world and how we’ve been equipped to do good for the glory of the Lord. She transitions to talking about “finding our niche.”

I’ve talked with a number of friends younger than me at various times in my life, and inevitably those who are Christians get caught up in ‘following God’s will,’ and trying to figure out what He wants them to do with their lives. For the life of me I can’t remember who told me this, but someone once told me something to the effect of, “Go and make disciples. That’s God’s will for your life. Period. It’s not complicated. God’s will for your life is that people know him through you. There are a million different ways you can do that. YOU make the decision for how you want to do it. Don’t pin it on God if you choose to do something that makes you miserable simply because you thought it was the most religious path to take. If God blatantly calls you somewhere, by all means, go. Go do that. Absolutely. But for the vast majority of us who don’t get to have our callings blatantly written in the sky, we’re to make disciples. Do what you love and use it to make disciples.” Okay, paraphrase is mine, but you get the general idea. We get WAY too caught up in trying to decipher what one specific path we should take. It’s nonsense. Just go and make disciples.

2 Thessalonians 1:11 (ESV):

“To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power.”

Here’s Beth again:

     “Let’s bask in the first: “every resolve for good.” Forget setting out to do something great. That goal entangles our egos every time. Instead, let’s resolve to do some good in Jesus’ name. If our good turns out great, then give glory to God. It was all about Him anyway. If we feel like it failed to achieve the fruit we hoped for (I’ve bee there many times), did we do anyone any good?
To find your niche, go meet some needs. There’s no end to them. Students need tutors. Shut-ins need visitors. Sick people need someone to pick up their medicine. Demoralized people need someone to listen. Pastors need encouragement before they pass out or pass on. Small group Bible studies need places to meet. Ministries need volunteers. Church nurseries are desperate for workers. Kids’ ministers are clamoring for servants who can keep commitments. Hungry people need food collectors. People who live out on the streets need shelter and, if they’re too trapped in addiction to desire it, they could use a blanket when it’s old. So many young women need mothering. Elderly women need to matter. And everybody needs spiritual mentors. Don’t worry about doing something great. Resolve to do some good.”

SOMEONE give me an amen here, brothers and sisters! Maybe I’m the only one who needed to hear this, but my goodness, the woman couldn’t have hit the nail on the head any harder if she would have tried.

If you’re like me, you’ve focused WAY too much on doing something great and forgotten to do some good. I’m so thankful for the Lord blessing me with a kick in the pants today. It was an encouraging kick, though! :) I hope your wheels are spinning just as mine are right now both about the way you approach the Word, sermons, etc. and the way you serve. I don’t need to say anything more. What God says and what Beth said speak for themselves. You apply it yourself.

Here’s to doing some good and letting the Lord speak when and as he desires,

Hannah

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Accountable for bloodshed: Turning the other cheek – Part 2

Day 5 of the Scripture challenge – final day, so I figured I’d save the most controversial for last. :) If you missed them, check out Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4. Also, you should probably read the first part of this blog prior to continuing as well.

Before I go any further with this, we need to have a chat. I don’t give two stinks about whether or not you agree with me on any of the verses/passages I’ve written about.. If you agree with me, I don’t care. If you disagree with me, I don’t care. The only thing I care about is that you truly dig into God’s Word on your own and make a decision in light of the entirety of Scripture, the context, the language snafus going from Hebrew to English, the cultural context, etc. If you can tell me you’ve really dug into these topics and yet disagree with me wholeheartedly, then fine. That’s on your plate, and what I believe is on my plate. I’m accountable for that, and you’re accountable for what you believe. If you’re comfortable with that and okay with that and have no qualms, then more power to you. Romans 14 is where you need to direct your attention right now. Please, please please read this chapter before proceeding. We’re all at different points on the spectrum of weak and strong. While I believe that this truly is an issue that scripture is pretty black and white about (an example of one that is not black & white could be drinking or watching rated R movies – lots of context and details to think about), it does require a considerable amount of digging and wrestling through. This is one that I am continuously re-evaluating to be sure that I’m not blinded by my upbringing or something similar.

Second little tid bit I want to cover is this: Why should you believe me? What authority do I have? Well, none. I have no authority. I have no degree in bible, philosophy, theology, biblical Hebrew, biblical Greek, underwater basket-weaving, flame-throwing, or anything related. My degree is in Church Music and Worship. The only thing I can tell you is this: I’ve wrestled with this topic time and time again. I’ve looked at the entirety of Scripture, and I’ve taken into consideration the fullness of God’s character that I currently understand (this is an ever-evolving concept for me, as I am always learning about him). So with that…

Day 5 – Matthew 5:38-39

You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Let’s start with a viewpoint that is all but the exact opposite of mine in a lot of ways: Read this. No really. You have to go read this. Disclaimer: If you don’t have time to read this stuff, then this isn’t the blog for you. You need to read everything I’m telling you because it matters and it’s important. Do a little work and read. Also, for the rest of this blog I will refer to gun ownership quite often, as this is the most common method of lethal force in the face of grave or immediate danger or threat to life and limb (which happens to be the definition of when a free and law-abiding citizen can legally use lethal force).

First of all, if we really want to talk about the way of Jesus not making sense, then I would encourage this guy to get off the Internet, sell his computer, sell his home, and take seriously Jesus saying that “the son of man has no place to rest his head.” If we are truly going to follow in Jesus’ footsteps the way blog author Tim Archer seems to be interpreting Scripture, then let’s bust out the For Sale signs. To push a few more buttons, how very interesting that some want to label me as unChristian for defending self-defense (even from a biblical standpoint) yet they themselves have an iPhone, a Mac, a TV, and so forth. Nevermind the fact that many companies today are exploiting overseas workers through the production of these items, but instead, please tell me how it is scriptural for you to own any of those luxuries, especially when they can be used for such terrible things. Oh, but you can control what you see on TV and what you use your iPhone to search for? I likewise can control the use of my own guns. And mine are made in the USA – legally, by adults who are paid fairly. Just sayin’.

If you are a gun owner or support the right and do so for self-defense reasons (among others, but if you shoot purely for sport and not for self-defense, then this won’t apply to you), I hope you have wrestled through the concept of self-defense. I hope that if you are both a committed disciple of Jesus and a gun owner that you have, at some point, questioned your own views. This is important. I definitely disagree with the guy for multiple reasons, but I’ll get to that. However, he’d be correct to say that Jesus didn’t fight back…at least during his crucifixion, when he was dying for the sins of the world. Jesus was not a popular guy with the government or with religious rulers – we know that much. However, the New Testament doesn’t seem to touch the self-defense issue, while the Old Testament states that it’s entirely justified (Matt. 5:18 – please keep this in mind). Was Jesus ever attacked and we don’t know it? Did he ever have to defend himself and we don’t have it recorded? Logic would say that he would have had to have fought back if his life was going to be put in immediate and grave danger, would it not? If he couldn’t flee, either he or one of the disciples would have had to have fought back! (Likely Peter, seeing as how we know he carried a sword — and by the way, Jesus was cool with that). Jesus couldn’t die prematurely. He had to die a very specific death. Quite frankly, given the corruption of individuals like Herod, it would in no way surprise me if this guy tried to hire con men to do away with Jesus before he was taken captive to be killed. Is there proof that Jesus ever defended his life against a premature threat? No, but I think I’m allowed to ask the question.

Working off that, I think Scripture speaks quite a bit to individuals not fighting back in the middle of religious persecution. We have record of early Christians willingly walking into the arena to be torn apart by wild animals. Iranaeus didn’t consider himself a Christian until he was martyred. However, this isn’t the context in which this guy is writing. Am I going to whip out my gun and shoot someone who says, “Bow to me!”? No. Regardless of Christian beliefs, I know the legal system: if my life isn’t in immediate and grave danger, I can’t pull that trigger without being charged with, bare minimum, second degree murder. If that man pulls a gun on me and says, “Reject God and bow to me or be killed!” in the name of Islam will I do it? I’m torn. My immediate reaction is no because that is religious persecution, and that is what Scripture speaks to. How quickly we forget that Peter was carrying the rifle of his day – a sword. He whipped it out and hacked someone’s ear off, to which Jesus told him to put it away, but he never told him to get rid of it. How interesting it is that it doesn’t record him calling the weapon evil or reprimanding him for having it, or telling him to sell it. I’m not going to put words in Jesus’ mouth and try to guess why he didn’t tell him to. But can we just read a passage from Luke real fast? Luke 22:3-38-

Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?”

“Nothing,” they answered.

He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”

The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.”

“That’s enough!” he replied.

Hmm.

The author of this article talking about religious persecution and trying to cram self-defense into this belief system, and that just doesn’t work. If someone attacks me on the street unannounced and I can defend myself with my pistol, will I? Yes. Quite frankly, I see nothing in Scripture that speaks against this. What in the world does someone attacking me on the street, who doesn’t know me, who has no clue I’m a Christian, have to do with religious persecution? We’re confusing two very different situations. To add fuel to the fire here, I’m torn with this issue of persecution. If others’ lives are at steak, you better believe I’ll fight back. 100%. I’ll touch on this later, but whether or not they confess to be Christians, I legitimately do not know where they will “end up.” I’m not God. I don’t hold those answers. To allow someone to be killed because I think I know where they’re going is dangerously close to playing God in my opinion. I believe we also have a responsibility to one another to keep each other safe. Ezekiel 33. I’d rather err on the side of defending innocent life and eliminating a threat that is pure evil and a threat to the lives of others as opposed to knowing I stood back and did nothing. If you were to survive somehow while the other died, I wish you the best of luck in living the rest of your life without feeling as if their blood was on your hands when you could have done something about it yet did not. If that’s a risk you’re willing to take, then that’s your call. However, as someone who seeks to be a peacemaker and live in harmony, yet is trained to restore harmony when someone upsets that balance, I will not hesitate to use said training. I’ve not been trained as a cold-blooded killer. I’ve been trained as a law-abiding citizen, who makes it a point to mind her Ps & Qs, who absolutely will not result to lethal force unless it is the only option in defending my life, the life of the innocent, or the life of a loved one. I hope to God I never have to use it.

Anyway..

I’d be interested to know how he would define who Jesus’ enemies were as well. I’m assuming the answer would be anyone who didn’t agree with his teachings, seeing as how we don’t really have reference to any other type of person within Scripture (yes, there were people who wanted to kill him, but it was because of his teachings). Jesus’ resistors were those who didn’t buy into him being the Messiah. They were the ones who wanted to kill him, for both good and bad reasons (i.e. the religious leaders). Bad reasons – their egos were hurt and they wanted this guy out. “Good” reasons (in their mind, for their day and time) – if you believed someone to be an absolute heretic in what they preached, and also believed they were total blasphemers, then by Old Testament law it made sense that they wanted the guy dead! That doesn’t mean they were right, but it at least gives us a little understanding as to what they were thinking. I think there was a guy named Paul who did something similar to Christians and admitted that he thought he was doing good and realized he wasn’t. Back to my original point: Jesus resistors (as far as we know) weren’t people who wanted to kill him in cold-blooded murder with no rhyme or reason. To do so would have gone against Old Testament law. That takes care of the religious leaders. Government officials – this guy was clearly not good for keeping the government in power over its citizens. He was disturbing the peace. Whether or not they followed OT law matters very little in regards to my point. My point is that all of the people who wanted to do away with Jesus had reasons for wanting to do away with him. All of these reasons were justifiable in their minds, culture, and society and actually make sense if we’re willing to be such heathens to go as far as placing ourselves in their shoes. Jesus was not randomly attacked that we have recordings of, which is the discrepancy with what this guy is saying. If this guy wants to try to relate unjustifiably justified (ha!) reasons for eliminating upheaval with something like a random attacking, shooting, or home invasion, then I wish him all the luck in the world. The two just don’t add up, and quite frankly, I just don’t see proof that personal defense when attacked ruthlessly and pointlessly is bad or contrary to Scripture.

The fact that he attempted to –

“According to the norms and standards of this world, Jesus’ way is a complete and utter failure. It offers little to no protection to its followers. It’s manner of dealing with evil men does little to dissuade them from their immoral deeds. It gives us no sense of vindication, no gratifying undoing of the wrongs of men.

By men’s standards, Jesus’ way doesn’t work.

That’s why so few would be willing to turn the other cheek, for example. They want turning the other cheek to stop the violent man in his tracks. They want submission to aggression to cause the aggressors to repent of their ways and begin to defend the innocent.”

– tells me he’s missing the disconnect. The NRA has nothing to do with religious persecution. I’m not resisting persecution by being a member. I’m not resisting anything, actually. I’m taking advantage of a freedom and right that I have as defined by our founding fathers (who were VERY Christian, might I add), and I am doing so not to take advantage of being able to take someone’s life, but to defend my own God-given life. You could argue that I’m resisting the government, but I would challenge your interpretations of my motives. I’m advocating for freedom. Pardon me here, but there are times when I think the, “Live and let live” philosophy isn’t a bad idea. Don’t interrupt social peace and you won’t have to worry about social justice. Period. Use your gun for good and you don’t have to worry about someone else using it, not for bad, but to defend their good.

“Just as Jesus’ way doesn’t fit the real world, the world’s way doesn’t fit Jesus’ kingdom. In the Kingdom of God, the world’s way doesn’t work.”

Please don’t try to tell me that Jesus wasn’t a fan of justice. I don’t even need to reference the Temple incident. I know that’s already in your mind. If you aren’t isn’t a fan of that one, let’s look at one that would seemingly derail my point. The woman caught in adultery. First of all, I’d like to point out that the story had absolutely nothing to do with adultery or the consequences thereof, yet we’ve made it about that to argue that Christians should be against the death penalty. Substitute any sinful act you want, and it still has everything to do with trying to catch Jesus in a bind. They could have used a hundred different scenarios to do this. Adultery was not integral to this story. However, let’s assume it was for the sake of me being on the losing end of the argument. Jesus doesn’t say they can’t stone her, but he makes it apparent that they have no right to (again, nothing to do with adultery) in light of their attitudes and knowing their approach and why they were doing what they were doing. What’s he tell the woman? He doesn’t condemn her, but tells her to go and leave her life of sin. Now allow me to make one of my beliefs very, very clear: Jesus died for eternal consequences. Not earthly ones. This woman, guaranteed, did not live an easy life after this moment. She was a whore. If she had no family or her family wouldn’t take her back, she had nowhere to go. She would have few to no options. Let’s just be real about the situation. The earthly consequences she would have endured from this moment on would have given her challenges for the rest of her life and most likely made her miserable. She is reduced to begging if she is to “go and sin no more.” Even if she weren’t, the emotional baggage she’s left with, the physical repercussions, the social repercussions, etc are all earthly consequences. Jesus didn’t take these away from her. This is the result of sin. We bring it upon ourselves with our own willful decisions to go astray. I’ve made my own stupid decisions, and I have to live with those consequences, fully aware that Jesus has forgiven me, but fully aware that there are consequences to my actions. Jesus didn’t die for those earthly consequences. That’s when you have an imbalance between grace and Truth. For there to be zero consequences would be all grace and no Truth. Perhaps I am horribly wrong, but I’m going to draw the conclusion that the same can be said for an individual who chooses to randomly step in and impose on someone’s well-being by being a life-threat to them. Part of the consequence of breaking into my house with intent to do harm to myself or my family will not bode well for you, gun or no gun. Welcome to natural consequence. If you personally want to take the stance of, “Well, I know where I’m going. I don’t know where he’s going,” then that’s fine. If that’s your conviction, so be it. That is not mine, ESPECIALLY if others dear to me are involved. I will not sit back and make the claim of, “Well, I know where they’re going, so it sucks, but it’s fine.” Quite frankly, I do NOT know where they’re going because I am NOT God. What do I do about family members who do NOT know Christ, as I do have many of those? Do I allow them to be murdered? If you’d like to accuse me of placing more value on one life over another, I will remind you that three more fingers point towards you when you point one towards me. Unless you are living the life that Mother Teresa lived, I’m going to challenge how much you truly value the lives of others around you. Just because I defend something as controversial as gun ownership and the use of such things in situations of self-defense does not mean I’m the only one defending something that’s up for interpretation. Congratulations on tithing a whole 10%, but please justify the usefulness of owning a new car, a laptop, a Blu-ray player, or a $70 pair of shoes that cost $10 to make and gives back even cheaper pairs to the shoeless “for every pair you buy.” Here’s a thought: buy a pair yourself and give the shoes to someone in your own community. Oh, but heaven forbid we actually do ministry ourselves.

Going further along in the article… All of the Revelation references speak directly to religious persecution – of which I clearly agree with – but they still have nothing to do with personal defense. I have SERIOUS issues with something he said: “It (the way of Jesus) doesn’t protect the weak or avenge the innocent.” If this is true, then expect Esther to show up in hell. She put her head on the chopping block to save her people. Damn her for defending them. Damn her for exposing that shrew Haman. God’s people should have willingly endured what Haman was going to bring against them. Pull away your abortion arguments. Stop defending the innocent.

Can I be brutally honest? Like, Hannah kinda-honest? I wholeheartedly believe Satan is taking advantage of our “turn the other cheek” belief. I really do. I think he’s sinking it into the hearts and minds of Christians that we are to, in no way, defend ourselves against any sort of evil or injustice. God commanded that we endure persecution should we stand toe-to-toe with it. I get that. In my mind it isn’t all that fun of an idea, but I get it. But to willingly allow some random psychopath to take away God-given life? Do we hold so little value over this awesome experience of life that we are in no way willing to defend it? We’ll defend the unborn, but we all of a sudden have a moral dilemma defending the born? We contradict our own views! It doesn’t add up! Christians should have called David Green and told him to drop the Hobby Lobby issue. Tell him to supply the healthcare for abortions. No more fighting. Tell him to turn the other cheek and not fight it. If we’re going to use this guy’s logic in one area, then let’s start using it everywhere. If we are going to build a theology off what this man is saying, then we should probably inform every police officer who is a serious Christian that he needs to take off his uniform and put the gun down. After all, they shouldn’t be fighting the violence.

Shoot, let’s get scientific about it. Your parasympathetic nervous system controls fight-or-flight. I am wired in such a way that, in darn near every situation I’m up against, I fight, and I fight hard. Do I look at God and tell him his design was flawed? I know we have the sin issue to deal with, but what do you do when your physiological make-up predisposes you to defense in a literal split-second situation? (let’s not confuse physiological and biological – I don’t want to leave gateways for the alternative lifestyle argument to somehow creep its way in here) Why does God design people who have justice (whether it be to defend life against attack be it physically, emotionally, or otherwise) almost literally coursing through their veins? Maybe it’s generations’ worth of sin. Perhaps my family comes directly from Cain and what I think is justice is actually cold-hearted malice. I’m sure you could somehow make the claim that my personality may very well be the result of generations of sin. I don’t have that answer. But I’m having a difficult time trying to figure out why God has made me so damned passionate about justice if there isn’t a reason behind it. Maybe I’m too much like Paul and think I’m defending the right thing when in all actuality I couldn’t be further from the truth. If that’s the case, then I’m hoping I head towards Damascus sooner rather than later, because fecal matter is about to hit the fan in our society. If I’m not supposed to be defending these issues the way that I am, then I hope he pulls me from this road quickly, because I’m very committed to defending what I believe.

Overall, I’m not seeing a balance of Truth and scriptural proof *IN CONTEXT* in what this guy is saying. He doesn’t explore how he may be wrong. He doesn’t explore the other side to things. I don’t see a lot of wrestling. I see a lot of sensationalist, Jesus-wants-you-to-be-miserableism coming from him, and that’s what I have a difficult time accepting. No, Jesus’ way isn’t easy. Anyone who’s been seriously following Christ for any amount of time knows that. But we contradict our own views as I’ve said before.

“If you’re looking for something that works, don’t look to Jesus’ teachings. But remember one thing: if you choose what makes sense to men, you’re choosing something that God despises. If your views line up with the views of your non-Christian neighbor, you’re probably not using God’s values. If your outlook is that of the Democrats or the Republicans or the Tea Partiers or NPR or the NRA, then you’re probably not following Jesus’ way.”

This is manipulation and it flat-out ticks me off. If nothing is ever going to make sense in this world, then first of all, you’re saying God can’t make sense of it. If it makes sense to no man, then I’d challenge whether it makes sense at all. I have a lot of non-Christian friends who are against guns. I guess that gives me freedom to value them… In all seriousness though, this man is attempting to bring doctrines of persecution into things that have absolutely nothing to do with persecution, and as I’ve said, that’s the root of my issue with what he’s saying. Also, the NRA holds prayer meetings, and my views are pretty in-line with that, so I guess I’m as sinful as they come (sorry, more sarcasm)..

Maybe I’m “clinging to guns & religion.” Shoot, maybe I’m just clinging to guns.  Until God convicts me that defending my own life that HE gave me against monsters who have nothing to do with persecution, chances are I’m not going to give up this fight. If Obama or some ISIS extremist wants to knock down my door himself and tell me to bow to him or I get shot, then that’s different.

From Titus 1: “For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silent, because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach – and that for the sake of dishonest gain.”

Maybe I need to do some examination and this is me. Maybe I’m not conforming to the image of Christ. When I pray, “More You, less me,” maybe I’m not really open to that. After all, there’s no record of Jesus carrying a weapon (also no record that he didn’t, but let’s operate under the assumption that he didn’t just so I’m on the losing end), but there’s also no record of him rebuking at least one of the disciples for carrying one.

One more thing. It’s interesting that some Christians want to bash gun ownership and gun owners any time this topic is brought up. That’s probably a super effective way to evangelize to those who are adamantly pro-gun and yet don’t know Jesus. I hear that whole relating thing is worthless. After all, the Bible never mentions anything about becoming all things to all men.

Oops.

Quite frankly, I’m very, VERY disappointed with those Christians who are adamantly refusing to see the other side, especially when the argument for pro-gun/pro-defense practices can be made with a biblical perspective. I’m disappointed because individuals who have never taken into consideration how a person can own a gun and can defend life and can still follow Christ is far beyond irritating. Think critically, dear friends. Think far more critically than you are now. Please think critically if you are an individual who knows little to nothing about self-defense and its presence throughout Scripture except what you’ve heard in sermons. If you have not actually looked at this outside of church, if you have not honestly studied any of this but instead you’re piggy-backing off of someone else’s theology, a societal trend, or an emotional reaction, then please – for the sake of those of us who are attempting to build a biblical and accurate viewpoint (however controversial it may seem because your favorite pastor is completely opposed yet knows nothing himself), either shut up or start digging and studying (I say that with all the love and respect in the world. But there are really only two options here).

Defend yourself. Defend the people you love. Defend the gift of life God’s given you instead of trying to be a martyr in a situation that doesn’t call for martyrdom. Find the lives of the innocent valuable enough to defend them both before and after they’re born.

Pray. Seek. Do.

Soli Deo Gloria.

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Jeremiah 29:11. Insert projectile vomit here.

On Saturday I began the “Scripture challenge” that’s going around Facebook right now. You post one passage a day for five days, and you tag two new people each day to do the same. Truthfully, I find things like that to be hokey, but there was some conviction for me: What could I possibly post that’s more important than the Word of God? I’m not trying to pull a Jesus juke here, but seriously. Sometimes passages are what others need to hear because they’ve lost a lot of hope. Sometimes they cut us where we need to be cut, but there is always the promise of being renewed, rebuilt, and restored. In an effort to not “Jesus juke” the challenge and make it sound like life is peachy and perfect, or that God is a wealth, health & prosperity God, and being a Christian means happy trails all day long, I’m instead posting a passage each day that I hear quoted rather often and with good intentions, but generally the understanding is lacking or the verse is taken out of context. So if you missed them, check out Day 1Day 2, and Day 3.

Day 4 – Jeremiah 29:11

Jeremiah 29:11. The verse seems to bring warm, fuzzy feelings all around. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Aaaaw. Isn’t that nice? Allow me to explain my extreme want and need to hurl whenever I hear this verse quoted grossly out of context.

For those of you who read this verse trying to find comfort because you can’t decide what major to study, what job to take, what person to date, etc (insert hokey life decision here) you MIGHT want to read this verse in context. The Israelites were in captivity. Not just any ol’ captivity that they’d wandered into, but captivity that God had specifically put them in because of rebellion. Furthermore, what does God tell them in the verses prior to? (starting in verse 5)

Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, see the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper. (Emphasis mine)

These people are in the middle of exile.. banishment from their homeland because God had carried them there. Can you imagine the spiritual battles occurring?! Going on…

Yes, this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the LORD.

God tells them that there are going to be people trying to convince them that they come in the name of the Lord, when really they’re doing nothing but tearing down their spiritual understanding in an already-distressed state. I understand that many people read this as “don’t worry, God has it under control.” Yes, that’s true. However, we’re failing to miss the real point in this story…

God may carry us into, or may allow us to be carried into spiritual exile – James 1:2-4 – “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” Trials are going to happen. The trials Paul refers to are different from the exile that God has carried the Israelites into. Our faith may land us in trials, as does our lack of faith. Lucky us, we all get to face trials, difficulties, and probably even a little bit of exile-type feelings! :) What did God tell the Israelites to do while they were there? Settle down. Make it feel like home, because you’re gonna be here for a while. Get comfortable and go about your daily life. Don’t change anything. Keep on keepin’ on. Too bad we leave that out whenever we read Jeremiah 29. Get comfortable with your distress, because God may need you there to teach you something. Too often I think we look for a way out of our messes. Should we? I’m tempted to think that even when we bring this upon ourselves that we aren’t necessarily going to find a way out. Jeremiah 30: 12-15 –

Your wound is incurable, your injury beyond healing. There is no one to plead your cause, no remedy for your sore, no healing for you. All your allies have forgotten you; they care nothing for you. I have struck you as an enemy would and punished you as would the cruel, because your guilt is so great and your sins so many. Why do you cry out over your wound, your pain that has no cure? Because of your great guilt and many sins I have done these things to you.

Let’s face it: If we need disciplined, it’s because we’ve lacked judgment skills somehow, somewhere. Discipline is necessary. And so when we’re in the middle of that discipline, we can’t act like the two-year-old trying to worm his way out of time-out. We have to see that discipline through to the end. Sometimes discipline might feel a little bit like spiritual exile. And then we try to get out as if we don’t deserve to be there. That’s cute. Don’t misunderstand me: I don’t think God wants us to be miserable. However, for those of us who have this outlandish appetite for sin, sometimes we need to be carried into exile and left there for a while. I’m not talking a forever, done deal, you’re in hell sort of exile. That’s not biblical. I’m not meaning for exile to sound like we’re separated entirely from God. God was still speaking through prophets while Israel was in exile. He hadn’t left them. He was ticked, but he hadn’t left them.

There are going to be moments when we aren’t going to know why things are occurring the way they are. That may be a good time for us to step out of the situation and ask ourselves if we’ve done something to get ourselves there. If so, we can probably assume God’s trying to get our attention.

For those who are truly walking with God, I don’t think he’ll hesitate to allow unfortunate circumstances to happen if that’s what it takes to get our attention when we’re spiritual space cases. I’m a little put off with people that say God won’t allow something unfortunate to happen to get our attention because he “loves us too much” to do something like that. Oh please. That’s the thing – he loves us too much to want to lose us. If it takes a little bit of pain to wake us up and turn us back to him, then I’m pretty sure that’s worth it.

My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Proof. Hebrews 12:5-11. When God’s trying to get your attention, don’t make light of it. Don’t tell yourself you can put off responding until tomorrow. He’ll do what it takes to get you to wake up.

Does anyone ever read past verse 11 (in Jeremiah 29), or anything besides verse 11? Look at what comes after (starting in verse 12)…

“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

So when will we truly find God and truly understand his plans? When we seek him with our whole heart. Can we have a come to Jesus moment real quick? If you honestly expect for God to reveal some magical, perfect plan (or really, any realistic, God-honoring plan for that matter) for your life without ACTUALLY doing a little bit of work, you crazy. No, our relationship with him isn’t based on works, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I see people quoting the bible on Twitter profiles, in tweets, in Facebook statuses, etc. and yet everything else is total trash. Cussing, hardcore partying, disgusting tweets from some sex-laden account on Twitter, getting high, making excuses for addictions. Do you HONESTLY believe that Jesus is your homeboy and has no issue with you not living right? Get serious. “For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Matthew 12:34. Oh. Well snap. Guess that says something. Either you’re pursuing God or you’re not. Get off the fence and pick a side. Lukewarm isn’t the game Jesus plays (Revelation 3:16-18. Look it up.) Yes, he has plans for you, but if you’re sitting in the middle of exile, ask yourself why you’re there. Stop trying to fix the problem yourself. Look to Christ. Let him guide you. Let the Lord take you back to Jerusalem. You have to decide that you want to go back, but you have to allow him to take you back. You fell off the horse? Get back up and get back on the darn thing. Repent and do the things you did at first (Revelation 2:5). Keep going. There are few things as worthless as a Christian sitting and bathing themselves in self-pity. Jesus has this thing under control. Trust him and keep going. Guys, culture has lied to you. A lot of churches have lied to you. Some of you have seen the video of Debriah going on one heck of a rant about the church lying to people – it’s solid. A lot of people have silver tongues that promise a life of abundance if you’ll only believe in God. Please find that for me in the Bible. I must have missed that one. This girl right here has lived one serious lukewarm life. I was the ultimate fence rider for years. So many people did a wonderful job of loving on me during those years and for that I’m forever indebted to them. However, it wasn’t until a few friends basically looked at me, and with a whole lotta love said, “Pick a side. You aren’t a teenager anymore. This game is old. Grow up,” that I finally started doing it. And sometimes we need that. So if you’re pulling the crap I did: partying every now and then (“Hey, what’s a little too much to drink going to hurt?”), playing cat & mouse with the opposite sex (“I’ll only go this far…”), dancing with an addiction to, well, basically sex (“What’s it matter? I’ve screwed this up before. One more time isn’t going to do anything..”) – whatever it is you do – stop. Stop it. Just stop. This isn’t going to get you anywhere. There will always be another time. Knock it off and pursue Jesus. Your emotions may not be involved in your choices for a really long time – that doesn’t give you any excuse or reason to not choose the right thing. You want to know God’s plans for your life? Then pursue him instead of the rest of the world. You can’t do all of those things I was doing (or pick your sin – whatever) and still pursue God. It does not work that way. There’s a difference between falling short while pursuing God and pursuing the world while pursuing God. I was not just falling short – I was in an all-out pursuit for both lives and figuring out quickly that one had to win and the other had to die.

Scripture is a continual love story of God redeeming his people time and time and time and time and time again. But the thing about relationships is both sides have to work at it. Yes, God does have plans to prosper his people and not bring spiritual harm to them, however, if we think we can sit back and enjoy the ride without ever getting to know him, without ever listening for his voice and obeying that voice, without spending time in the Word then we’re lying to ourselves.

We should take heart in the fact that God is so relentless in pursuing us and knowing us that he’s willing to carry us into exile when we need it yet still speak hope into our lives. That’s an incredible God – a god that other religions have yet to ever know. Don’t make him into a shallow God that will be at your ever beckon call. His existence is not to cater to you when you need it and step aside once you have it figured out. We’re to be in communion with him. Walk with him. Spend time with him. Serve with him. He has plans for you, but it’ll be hard to listen for them if you don’t know the sound of his voice.

Pray. Seek. Do.

Soli Deo Gloria.

P.S.

I didn’t include this in the post because it would have made it even longer, however, please keep in mind that this letter is written to a group, not an individual. Often we make it sound like God has one path and only one path for us *as individuals*, and we make ourselves miserable trying to figure that out. Well, take heart, friends. That’s not what this verse is about either. God was speaking to a community, not you as an individual. That’s a different post for a different day, but it’s some food for thought – you can do the dishes. ;)

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If grapes are growing on your pepper plants, then we have a problem.

In case you missed yesterday’s post, click here.

Day 2 – Matthew 7:1-2

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it be be measured to you.”

Lemme guess: You’ve heard and/or used this at least 850 times in your life to prove a point or you’ve heard someone else use it to prove their point.

“Don’t judge me.”
“Only God can judge me. The Bible says so.”
“We have no right to judge those who believe differently than we do.”
“I’m not judging you for your lifestyle…”

If it includes some form of ‘judge,’ you’ve probably heard or said it. Our culture is huge on this one right now, because judgment means we’re telling someone they’re wrong, and who am I to tell someone else how to live their life, or that what they’re doing is wrong? It’s their life, after all. Not mine.

The problem is we have a really crappy idea of what judgment is. We think that someone telling us that what we’re doing is wrong is itself wrong, or we think that just because someone doesn’t approve of what we do, think, or say that they’re hate-mongers who live their lives discriminating everyone.

Just like last night, let’s once again operate under the assumption that we’ve taken this verse out of context and, once again, have a terrible understanding of it.

The problem with this verse is we pull it entirely out of context. We remove that single verse with the takeaway that Jesus told us we shouldn’t judge anyone. Absolutely. Even removing it from the rest of the verses still gives it the same meaning. We shouldn’t judge a single person. We don’t get to make the call as to whether or not they wind up in heaven.

BUT…

There may be more to the entirety of Jesus’ message than simply refraining from passing judgment and making assumptions. Let’s read the rest of the passage:

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.”

Jesus knew what our tendency would be. Now that we’re all holy & saved, it’s pretty easy to start noticing the sin of the world. It’s easy to look around and see what’s wrong here, here, here and there when we have the misunderstanding that our relationship with God is defined by what we do instead of what He’s done. And everyone and their brother is right: Stop judging. It’s not necessary.

BUT…

Is it judgment when we recognize a tree by the fruit it bears? Is it truly judgment when we look at someone’s life and evaluate what comes from their mouth with what actions they choose to take? Answer: Put the big girl panties on – this isn’t judgment. Its not judgment for me to look at the life of a Christian friend who spends their weekends getting drunk and to then ask them some questions. It’s not judgment for one of my Christian friends to call me on the carpet when something immoral comes from my mouth. That’s calling a tree by the fruit it bears. Let me tick everyone off: It’s not judgment to look at an individual who claims Jesus as savior of their soul yet hasn’t allowed him to be the Lord of their love life. At some point because of love we need to look at each other and ask why there is a dichotomy between thought, word, and action if we’re seeing a discrepancy.

BUT…

If I’m going to ask these questions, then an examination of my own life needs to happen first. If I myself am struggling with an issue that I’m seeing in my Christian brother’s or sister’s life, then the first step is to get me straightened out. And honestly, chances are that the other person probably knows that they need to clean their junk up (however, that doesn’t let us off the hook of holding each other accountable), so what I’m saying to them will likely not come as a shock. However, tread lightly and lovingly. Calling out sin because you know it exists and having concern for your brother or sister’s walk with God are two very different approaches.

BUT…

Jesus doesn’t stop there. He gives us a pretty big warning that’s difficult to stomach sometimes because we don’t always know where to draw the line: There are going to be people who will be the metaphorical two-year-olds, stick their fingers in their ears, close their eyes and start screaming, “LA LA LA LA LA LA!” at the top of their lungs. Do not waste sacred time here. It’s futile to try to teach a concept coming from Jesus to people who tear apart everything Christians say and do. In short, you can explain yourself til you’re blue in the face on any Facebook argument you want, but if you’re casting pearls before swine, you’re wasting your time. By no means does that mean we give up, but if we’re hell-bent (ironically enough) on getting through to “that one person,” maybe we need to first evaluate motives and the methods with which we go about them. The biggest question you can ask yourself is, “Am I genuinely concerned for this individual’s place in eternity, or am I more concerned with just being right?” Check yourself. Be honest. I’ve been there. I’ve been more concerned about being right than I was about whether or not the person understood who Jesus was, as it was clearly evident in my argumentative nature. This is where honest prayers for wisdom and pure motives are essential in reaching those who we know that have a tendency to be closed off to what we have to say. Sometimes we may be casting our pearls before swine and recognize that now is not the time, but it doesn’t mean that that particular someone will never come around and be slightly more fertile soil to plant in on down the road, so to speak.

BUT…

Remember, we also need to look at context. From here, Jesus teaches about asking, seeking and knocking. He follows up his teaching about judgment with the idea of asking God for honest answers, and seeking those answers out, and knocking on the doors of opportunity. Coincidence? Doubtful. Further, he says, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.” I guarantee you that if someone came to me and told me about how they’ve been asking God for wisdom, seeking out wisdom in Scripture, and watching for an opportunity to talk with me and be honest and open about what they’re seeing in my life, I’m going to be more receptive. What they have to say might sting, but this is someone who hasn’t shied away from loving me through accountability, but who has also spent time prayerfully considering the circumstance. That’s how I would want someone to approach pointing out the speck of dust in my eye, so maybe that’s what Jesus is getting at when he gives us the Golden Rule. We all need held accountable – every last one of us. Without accountability, you get…well…American culture. You get Hollywood. You get girl power that emasculates and humiliates men. You get the belief that you can and should have sex with whomever you desire, and you shouldn’t have to live with the natural consequences should things not go according to plan. You get the belief that it’s completely acceptable and even healthy to desire the rape-like treatment viewed in movie theaters and read in books. You get the leniency of, ‘if it feels good, do it.’ Without accountability, you get to do whatever you want. And boy, doesn’t that seems like a great idea.

AND…

He then talks about the way to heaven: Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Are we seeing a theme here?

SO…

I find it to be no coincidence that Jesus then follows that up with the teaching of recognizing the fruit in peoples’ lives. Apple trees don’t produce bananas. Grapes don’t grow on pepper plants. Judgment doesn’t grow in a Christian, but neither does spineless acceptance that prioritizes peoples’ temporary happiness over the lasting consequences of eternity. And should it be any surprise that he then says (in a nutshell), “Just because you recognized that I was Jesus, just because you went to church yet continued the same lifestyle you had before you knew me, just because you told people about who I was doesn’t mean you ever actually let me have any say in your life. And because of that, sorry, but I never knew you.” (Matt 7:21-23). Surprisingly enough, I think Jesus is telling us that it’s actually about more than what we do. It’s difficult to say that I truly believe that Jesus loves me if my life says I love the world. If your life after meeting Jesus looks the same as before you knew him in both actions and posture of heart, then God have mercy on those of us who saw it and never said anything. We live out what we believe – period. Being able to recognize Jesus is different than actually knowing him. I would recognize Robert Downey Jr. on the street, but that doesn’t mean I knew anything about him. And friend, please – please don’t take eternity lightly. Please don’t assume that the grace credit card will work if life was spent ignoring the call to know Jesus and shape your life in a response to that.

Little surprise that Jesus then talks about the man who builds his house on the rock and weathers the storm versus he who takes the easy way out and builds on the sand. Guys, there’s no doubt that Jesus loves you, but there’s also no doubt that he wants to see our lives respond to that love, not ignore it and/or contort Scripture to make up our own definitions.

Summary: If bananas are growing on your apple tree, then get rid of the weirdness, okay? Go back to growing apples. If you see grapes growing on someone’s pepper plant, tell them! You don’t have the right to lecture them about how the pepper plant is altogether bad and useless – that’s not the truth. Just prune the tree, help them get rid of the fruit that shouldn’t be there, and see them through to growing what they should be growing. Further, find the people who are the Miracle Grow in your life. Find the ones who are willing to take an ax to a branch that has no business growing on your tree, but will help your tree grow as it should. And be willing to be that for someone else.

Pray. Seek. Do.

Soli Deo Gloria.

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With man, this is impossible. With God, it might be improbable. Wait, what?!

Mrs. Brittany Bardsley “nominated” me for the Five-Day Scripture Challenge that’s making its way across Facebook at the moment. The bottom line: You post a verse every day and you nominate two new people every day to take the challenge. Pretty easy, but if I’m honest, it seemed highly annoying…and then I realized that I’m a total chump if I’m annoyed at posting Scripture but not sarcasm. So, in order to handle it the best way I can, I’m trying not to Jesus juke this whole thing. I’ll blog about a verse (or a few verses) for the next five days, no problem. The catch: I’m going to try to tackle some verses that we either have a very poor understanding of, or a very idealistic view of (example: Jeremiah 29:11. We quote that WAY too often. That’ll likely show up here too).

Day 1 – Matthew 19:26

“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

If I had a dime every time someone in college quoted this when a big project was due, I probably could have paid for my student loan debt along with a third of the campus. We have this hilarious tendency of pulling out a verse that sounds really nice and applying it to any and every situation in life, even when it’s a far cry from what was actually taking place. Context, dear friends. Context.

It’s really cute to operate under the assumption that God will make all things possible just because he’s God. At least it’s cute if you’re 11 and at a youth retreat. I mean, okay, fine. I guess he can – he’s God. It’s not like he needs anyone’s permission. But do you honestly think this is the best verse to pull out every single time you know of someone who has a loved one on their death bed? Or when a friend is right in the middle of the most hell-infested storm of her life because her husband has cheated on her with multiple women? Or when a family is learning to cope with their child being paralyzed from the waist down because of being hit by a drunk driver? No, really – I get it. He’s God, and yes, he absolutely can and has raised the dead. He can and has healed marriages that are barely hanging on by the final thread of a final thread. Yes he can and has healed the paralytic. But stop. Just stop for one second. Take off the rose colored glasses and just look. Is this really what Jesus was talking about? Did any of those things take place when he said these words?

Not a single one.

In fact, Jesus isn’t working miracles at all right now. He’s teaching. Back up to verse 16. This entire passage is about the rich young ruler who was curious what more needed to be done to gain eternal life. Jesus says hang on to the Top Ten. Our little beacon of success asks which ones. Jesus tells him the big ones: Don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, honor Ma & Pa Kettle, don’t lie, and love the people around you as you love yourself. The kiddo has this down. He’s been a decent guy. He’s rich, he’s successful, he seems like a decent guy. Props to him, because he realizes he isn’t perfect. He asks Jesus what he still lacks. Jesus cuts right to the chase:

“‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’

When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, ‘Who then can be saved”‘ Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’

Translation: For those of us who are completely content and satisfied with the things of this world and the things under our control, it’s going to be extremely difficult for us to deny ourselves. It’s hard for someone who is rich with excess to deny themselves and be humble enough to admit, “I must give this up. If I’m going to truly follow Jesus, then it’s time to lay this aside and be done with it.” When the disciples heard this teaching, they were confused until Jesus clarified; “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (verse 26).

I’m guessing you’ve likely heard verse 26 in this sort of context: “If you believe, God can make it possible. If you have enough faith, God can work in it.” As if our level of faith somehow determines what God can or can’t do. Please. “With God, all good things are possible!” When you actually look at this verse in context it says something totally different. May I?

With man, it will be impossible for anyone to deny themselves.
With man, it’s impossible to make a legitimate sacrifice.
With man, it’s impossible to have lasting self-control.
But with God, the sacrificial things are possible.
With God self-control is possible.

This is very different from the belief that with God, all good things are possible. Yes, all good things are possible, but that doesn’t mean they’re probable. You can have all the faith in the world, but I’d assume that would make it just as likely for you to be a moving target for Satan as you are a recipient of God’s blessing (not that you shouldn’t daily build that faith – good grief, don’t misunderstand me).
 

Let’s not assume that holding fast to rules will somehow gain us eternity. Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that if we do it all right, a life of abundant blessing will follow. Let’s not turn the Gospel into something it isn’t. Jesus did everything right and we see where that landed him here on earth. But we also see where that took him in death and resurrection. 

 Summary: Please don’t misunderstand me. I adamantly believe that God can and will bless people however he chooses to. However, let’s not use verses as our shouts of health, wealth, and victory when they’re more geared towards being tokens of honesty about our own condition.

The encouraging part is, no matter what we’re holding onto, yes, we absolutely can surrender it, we just can’t do it on our own. Speaking from personal experience here. It wasn’t until I was willing to spend nights on my face – sometimes until 4 or 5 in the morning – in an all-out battle to not fight on my own but to continue surrendering the struggle minute after minute that any amount of headway was actually made.  Sometimes that’s where you have to go. Sometimes that’s what it takes. If you’re still trying to deny yourself with your own power, trust me: It’s why it isn’t working. That moment that you decide to give in is the moment we succumb to this idea that the temptation is “too strong.” Load of crap: If we take God at his word, then we really do believe he will always provide a way out (in Ephesians – forgive me for not having the exact reference on the tip of my tongue..um…fingers at 1:30 AM). That might require swallowing pride in a new way, but he does provide that.

It’s possible to deny yourself and starve the porn addiction.
It’s possible to deny yourself and battle against the food addiction.
It’s possible to deny yourself and surrender the blood-thirsty hunger for control and power.
It’s possible to deny yourself and turn away from the shopping sprees.
It’s possible to deny yourself and close the chapter on your party life.
It’s possible to deny yourself and learn to love who you are for once.

All of this is possible, not with ourselves, but with the power of God Almighty himself.
May we not forget such a bedrock truth.

Pray. Seek. Do.

Soli Deo Gloria.

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Faith Like A Child? Pffft.

Although I do plan to go on to seminary after college, I’m convinced that higher education (above an undergrad) has the potential to destroy peoples’ Christian theology and convictions. Maybe there’s a reason Christ said to have faith like a child; because faith like a 40-year-old, doctorate-holding individual continues to make me sick. Explanation? Gladly.

As I sat in the Fall Colloquium for the Theology & Ministry Department this morning, I was unimpressed to say the least. The number one theologian in America, Stanley Howerhaus, was invited as the speaker. One of his main points was not to make the world just, but to make the world, the world. At one point he incorporated a reference to a mentally retarded person. It went something like this, “You can heal a cancer patient of cancer and they will live, but you can’t heal someone of retardation without killing them.” Fair. I could see the logic behind the statement. He then talked about how those who aren’t Christians are considered  the “retarded.” NO, HE DID NOT CALL PAGANS RETARDED (for my liberal friends who enjoy twisting my words). What he was saying was we live in a world where pagans don’t understand us. The language is completely different, our understanding is different. If you’re going to try to argue with me about this, don’t. Don’t even start it because I’m telling you straight up I will not listen. These were NOT my words, these were his. If you want to complain about the comparison contact Howerhaus.

I’m still unclear as to what he meant by “Our first task of the world is not to make it just, it’s to make the world the world.” Theology students, help me out because at this point, I think that was a terrible statement.

Why can’t I explain it to you? Because the man talked himself in circles and used theological garb that was completely uncalled for, which brings me to my main point..

If we’re to have the faith of a child, I’m not sure we should start a competition of who can sound smarter and “deeper.” Quite honestly, that disgusts me to see Christians do, and PLEASE don’t tell me that doesn’t happen at this university, and please don’t try to give me some “scholarly” explanation about how we should aim for a deeper Christology. The more complex you make your statements regarding your beliefs, the lesser chance you have for reaching the common human being. Quite frankly, in many cases it sure wouldn’t hurt to dumb things down. Do I believe we should constantly be digging into Scripture, history, and study of cultures? Yes. I don’t have a problem with arming ourselves with knowledge. That’s scriptural, plus it’s just intelligent to do so. What I DO have a problem with is the attitude and presentation that I often see. So you’re intelligent: congrats. You can use big words: awesome, I like them too. But tell me what good it does to talk about reaching the world sans theological garb and to then speak about the very thing you’ve warned against to college students? Really? Are we REALLY taking part in the competitions that the world competes in? Quite honestly I think this can be stripped down to, “My dad’s cooler than your dad!” What we see is, “I can sound smarter than you can!” What in the world does that do for unity in the church? Quite honestly, what does it do PERIOD other than boost your ego?

Am I saying this was the intention of the men who got up and spoke this morning? No. Am I saying this is how it came across to me personally? Yes. All the men who spoke were brilliant men, but I won’t write off the fact that it could have been slightly over the top if only a small handful of students could produce questions afterwards (some of which were actually answered in their original expounding, but it was difficult to catch. Again, talking in circles).

I appreciated Howerhaus touching on homosexuality, but I was (again) very disturbed by something he said, and again, I think it was due to a very high degree of education. He himself questioned homosexuality in the church and in marriage. Really? REALLY? This is a black & white issue, folks. This isn’t up for question. Our SOCIETY started questioning it, which in turn made CHRISTIANS start questioning it. The homosexuality-is-okay movement did NOT originate within the church. Christians who didn’t know where they stood were influenced by this overwhelming opinion, and it spread. It’s laid out in the Bible, both New and Old Testaments, that it is not okay. Do we accept homosexuals in our churches and disciple them? Of course. But to openly say that you’re not sure entirely sure where you stand regarding the issue in conjunction with marriage? Unacceptable.

I clearly understand IWU wanting to bring in someone like the “#1 Theologian in America,” but I have to wonder how much our students would take away from someone like Dave Sims, who has only an undergrad in youth ministries, is a hicktown farmer, and yet seems to know and understand more about the Scriptures than dang near every doctorate-holding individual I know. I can honestly say (in regards to theology and the Bible) that I’ve learned more from individuals you will never hear of than I have from big-name individuals. I’m sure I’m not the only one who can say that.

Why would I continue on to seminary if I’m concerned about being “overly-educated?” (Disclaimer: I don’t think there IS such a thing, but I definitely believe it can go to one’s head if a tight reign isn’t kept on it). At the risk of this sounding incredibly egotistical, I’m not going for myself. It isn’t to say I did this, or I accomplished that. It’s so I can help others, specifically women. I’m studying women’s ministry and counseling. I’m not saying that every person who attends seminary for theology, philosophy, or whatever else is doing so for selfish reasons either (I feel like I must clarify, because if I don’t, I know someone will get upset). A piece of me has to wonder why in the world people go to seminary if they don’t want to follow the guidelines God gave. It’s going to make your life inconvenient, no, you AREN’T going to like every single thing. Put yer big girl panties on and deal with it! Can I help women without going to seminary? Yes. Will I be more educated and better equipped if I DO go? Yes. Double yes. I want a knowledge of the Bible on a different plane so I can start to look at how that applies to the lives of women who don’t understand it and who don’t know the Gospel. Yes, everyone who goes to seminary can say this, but let’s ask a question here: are they doing it? I’m just so over this whole thing of trying to sound as philosophical, educated, and deep as humanly possible. Put the Gospel in terms that people can understand! Eventually we have to get our nose out of the books and onto the streets and into the lives of the people who don’t know Christ. Yes, read the Bible; yes, learn all you can; and then get out there and DO something about it. Knowledge is useful only if you put it to use. It’s almost as if we aren’t satisfied being God’s children…instead we want to be competitive siblings with each other. And by sibling, I mean adolescents who think they know it all, and finally one day come to realize their dad knew what he was talking about the entire time.

GAH.

And just to even the playing field, I will be posting a blog about things I greatly appreciated about today’s seminar, because yes, there were things I thought needed to be said, especially to the college crowd, but my frustration could handle being silent no more. :)

*laugh* Pray on. =P

Matthew 19:13-14

“Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

A Hard Pill To Swallow

I don’t typically openly criticize Christian leaders, because they have the most difficult job in the world – preaching the Gospel. However, when it is someone who has thousands, if not millions, of followers, and I see little to no biblical truth laced in what they’re preaching, I don’t have a problem openly stating my opinion. Before I receive ANY amount of criticism, be it good or bad, I would encourage you to read this entire blog, not just pieces of it. If you find an err in what I say, then by all means, email me. lifeaccordingtohannah@yahoo.com However, if you choose to, I would HIGHLY encourage you to use Scripture to back up what it is you’re going to say to me. And by highly, I mean any and all complaints will be deleted that don’t contain solid, Scriptural reference. Please keep in mind you’re reading a personal blog, not something that’s been published. These are strictly my opinions.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
-Matthew 7:13-23

Joel Osteen. If you know who this man is, you just had one of two reactions. One, you either automatically agreed with me, or two, you’re ready to spit fire because without reading what I’m going to say, you’ve decided that I, along with every other Christian who is against him, am wrong.

Allow me to share with you bits from an interview between Mr. Osteen and Larry King from the show Larry King Live.


KING: What if you’re Jewish or Muslim, you don’t accept Christ at all?

OSTEEN: You know, I’m very careful about saying who would and wouldn’t go to heaven. I don’t know …

 

At this point, even Larry King appears surprised by Osteen’s answer. Then Larry tosses Osteen a “soft-ball” to explain his previous answer. And again Osteen openly denies that Jesus Christ is the ONLY way of salvation.

KING: If you believe you have to believe in Christ? They’re wrong, aren’t they?

OSTEEN: Well, I don’t know if I believe they’re wrong. I believe here’s what the Bible teaches and from the Christian faith this is what I believe. But I just think that only God will judge a person’s heart. I spent a lot of time in India with my father. I don’t know all about their religion. But I know they love God. And I don’t know. I’ve seen their sincerity.So I don’t know. I know for me, and what the Bible teaches, I want to have a relationship with Jesus.

To be fair, I will say that Osteen is correct in not judging a person’s heart. But where do you draw the line between pushing certain behaviors under the rug and warning others about correcting sinful behavior? Let me make this clear: At some point, you’re probably going to come across as judging. At SOME point. Not at every twist and turn, not every second of every day. At some point, someone probably SHOULD accuse you of being judgmental. Why? Because God said go and make disciples. Disciple.. Discipline.. Okay, we see the connection between the two words. Discipline is training, is it not? Discipleship is training for obedience to Christ. At some point, people have to know they’re disobedient to Christ. That’s part of the gig. That’s part of salvation – it’s called repentance. At some point, one must realize that their lifestyle is imperfect and they are in need of salvation. Now, if my logic serves me correctly, after said repentance, you now live with an understanding that certain lifestyles are wrong. AND, if you’re wanting to save people from the fires of Hell, you must also tell others about wrong lifestyles, yes? Well I’m sorry to burst the bubble of some, but even if you break it down and make it sound like a warning, as I just did, there are people who will still consider that judging. So, while we should not be like Westboro Baptist Church and go around holding up signs that say, “GOD HATES FAGS,” I’m pretty sure that we SHOULD be yes, accepting of the homosexuals in our church, but at some point, they’re going to have to come to grips with the fact that homosexuality is wrong. And before you point out that I used a target group, at some point you’re also going to have to look the man in the eye who has a wandering eye and tell him that his wife is his wife. Love & respect her. You’re also going to have to look the woman in the eye and tell her to quiet her mouth when she turns to gossip. At some point we stop silencing the fact that there are people in our churches who not only struggle with things like homosexuality, but also porn addictions in male and females alike, gossip issues, gluttony issues, drinking issues, anorexia issues, so on and so forth. At some point, you’re going to have to look at yourself in the mirror and admit your own personal battle and struggle. Bottom line: The American Church is in desperate need of reformation. Desperate. Unfortunately, we live in a world that only allow political correctness. Hey Christians: Jesus wasn’t politically correct.

I would also like to point out that Joel Osteen HAS judged peoples’ hearts.. He said so when he  said, “I know they loved God.” How? Their sincerity? I believe Joel Osteen is sincere in what he believes, but I believe he’s wrong. Loving God means warning others about their lifestyles. He sweeps them under the rug. Not cool.

At this point, King opened up the phone lines..

CALLER: Hello, Larry. You’re the best, and thank you, Joe — Joel — for your positive messages and your book. I’m wondering, though, why you side-stepped Larry’s earlier question about how we get to heaven? The Bible clearly tells us that Jesus is the way, the truth and the light and the only way to the father is through him. That’s not really a message of condemnation but of truth.

OSTEEN: Yes, I would agree with her. I believe that. . .

KING: So then a Jew is not going to heaven?

OSTEEN: No. Here’s my thing, Larry, is I can’t judge somebody’s heart. You know? Only God can look at somebody’s heart, and so — I don’t know. To me, it’s not my business to say, you know, this one is or this one isn’t. I just say, here’s what the Bible teaches and I’m going to put my faith in Christ. And I just I think it’s wrong when you go around saying, you’re saying you’re not going, you’re not going, you’re not going, because it’s not exactly my way. I’m just…

KING: But you believe your way.

OSTEEN: I believe my way. I believe my way with all my heart.

KING: But for someone who doesn’t share it is wrong, isn’t he?

OSTEEN: Well, yes. Well, I don’t know if I look at it like that. I would present my way, but I’m just going to let God be the judge of that. I don’t know. I don’t know.

KING: So you make no judgment on anyone?

OSTEEN: No. But I..

Kudos for realizing that you can’t go around saying, “You’re going, you’re not going, you’re going, you’re not going,” because the truth is, you really don’t know someone’s heart. However, how can you not acknowledge that someone who spits in the face of God, has not chosen Christ as their savior, and lives a life completely apart from God, will clearly not be going to heaven? He made that VERY clear. And I’m sorry to say it, but even those “good people” we all know won’t make it. This is an inconvenient truth, one I can’t apologize for. Why? Because as Christians, if we’re doing our jobs, then these people will hear the message of Christ. This is a hard pill to swallow. Trust me, I know. I have a father who I’m not sure knows Christ personally. If you don’t think that doesn’t bring me to my knees nearly every night, then think again. This truth is difficult for everyone to swallow. Joel Osteen needs to man up and face this fact.

KING: What about atheists?

OSTEEN: You know what, I’m going to let someone — I’m going to let God be the judge of who goes to heaven and hell. I just — again, I present the truth, and I say it every week. You know, I believe it’s a relationship with Jesus. But you know what? I’m not going to go around telling everybody else if they don’t want to believe that that’s going to be their choiceGod’s got to look at your own heart. God’s got to look at your heart, and only God knows that.

Are you reading what I’m reading? Osteen won’t acknowledge the fact that atheists are wrong in what they believe. He’s being politically correct – the EXACT opposite of what Jesus was, and please don’t argue me that he wasn’t. The GOVERNMENT crucified him. He went into the temple and cracked the whip on what was going on. Little Jesus – meek and mild – long, flowing brunette hair – baby blue eyes. Right. The Bible said that Jesus had no true home – his true family members were the ones who accepted him. If he had no true home, I’m going to bank that he probably wasn’t too meek & mild. I’m guessing the man could work with his hands. In fact, in the New Testament, Jesus is called a Tekton, a Greek word for a carpenter, but not one who is just a skilled construction engineer or architecturally gifted, but a Tekton could build a house, construct a temple.. Serious business. Jesus was most likely a beast. And one of my favorite “churched” views is that Jesus had long, flowing hair & a beard.. Remember that Jesus walked around and preached for most of his life. A common practice back in Jesus’ time was that men would keep their hair and beards short to prevent from being robbed. Robbers would hide behind walls, jump out, grab men with long hair from behind, slit their throats and rob them. Could he have had the long hair? Sure, but according to his culture, he wouldn’t have. Brief cultural lesson for you. Anyway. Back to being PC (which Jesus was not). Osteen cares more about the view people have of him than he does preaching Truth. The following is a letter he proceeded to write and publish on his website, but ONLY AFTER numerous complaints were voiced about how he refused to acknowledge, verbally acknowledge, that Christ is the one and ONLY way of receiving salvation. Are Christians really following this guy?

Dear Friend,

Many of you have called, written or e-mailed regarding my recent appearance on Larry King Live.  I appreciate your comments and value your words of correction and encouragement.

It was never my desire or intention to leave any doubt as to what I believe and Whom I serve.  I believe with all my heart that it is only through Christ that we have hope in eternal life.  I regret and sincerely apologize that I was unclear on the very thing in which I have dedicated my life.

Jesus declared in John 14; I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father but by me.   I believe that Jesus Christ alone is the only way to salvation. However, it wasn’t until I had the opportunity to review the transcript of the interview that I realize I had not clearly stated that having a personal relationship with Jesus is the only way to heaven.  It’s about the individual’s choice to follow Him.

God has given me a platform to present the Gospel to a very diverse audience.  In my desire not to alienate the people that Jesus came to save, I did not clearly communicate the convictions that I hold so precious.

I will use this as a learning experience and believe that God will ultimately use it for my good and His glory. I am comforted by the fact that He sees my heart and knows my intentions.  I am so thankful that I have friends, like you, who are willing to share their concerns with me.

Thank you again to those who have written. I hope that you accept my deepest apology and see it in your heart to extend to me grace and forgiveness.

As always, I covet your prayers and I am believing for God’s best in your life,

(http://www.joelosteen.com/site/PageServer?pagename=LarryKingLetter)

 

I would like to point out the biggest issue I have with this letter. Please look at the line I have italicized and made bold. I’d like to know the definition of “good” that Osteen is referring to. “Good” as in more wealth and prosperity for him? Or “good” as in maybe a demise of his prosperity gospel in order that Christians have the veil removed from over their eyes? Maybe our definition of “my good” is completely different than God’s definition of “my good.” In fact, I know that’s legit. If you’d like a specific example involving me, get ahold of me. I’d love to share.

I’d like to revert back to what I first posted..

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
-Matthew 7:13-23

Small is the gate.. Narrow is the road. Maybe that’s why swallowing the Truth is so difficult. I’m not saying everything I say is correct. What I’m saying is I would highly encourage challenging what you listen to, and who you listen to. If teachings/preachings don’t stack up biblically, you might consider rethinking. Please note I did NOT say “if it offends you, then don’t listen.” Christ’s teachings were, at points, quite offensive. He looked his disciples in the eye and asked, “You don’t want to leave too, do you?” (John 6:67) And how did Peter reply? “To whom would we go?” Peter recognized Jesus for who he was. The one and ONLY way to God the Father. Christianity is the ultimate definition of putting your ego and yourself on the shelf. Pick up your cross and follow Him. It won’t be comfortable. It won’t be easy. But it will be worth it.

Pray on, friends.

All Joel Osteen manuscript quotes come from http://www.av1611.org/osteen.html
All biblical references, as always, come from http://www.biblegateway.com

Sola gratia.

Knowledge vs. Action. DO SOMETHING.

I’ll cut to the chase: You can have all the knowledge of the Bible in the world, but guess what.. It doesn’t matter a bit how much you know, how scholarly you are, or how many stupid gold stars you have on your Sunday school chart until you live out what Christ said.

This rant goes for myself before anyone else; let’s clear that one up. Sitting here thinking about my life was really an eye opener. I’m no biblical scholar, but I know a bit, but what the heck does it matter until I do something with that? I’m tired of Christians taking the easy way out. I’m tired of me, myself, thinking, “Oh, well I do this, so that’s my fair share, right?” Yeah, no. False. We claim to be Christians, but then we won’t even do acts such as sitting beside someone we don’t know on a plane because it would make us uncomfortable (just to provide a random example). We call ourselves Christians, but we care more about a cause or a group than we do the people involved with it, to the point of trampling on people just to promote something “bigger & better.” As a Christian, I should NEVER be satisfied in how much I’m doing. Christ came and poured out all his blood on a cross for me and all the stupid, bone-headed things I do. I don’t think it’s enough for me to specify WHERE I choose to give my all. I can’t just give my all when I’m on a riser singing. I can’t just give my all when I’m in a chair playing my flute. That misses the point entirely. If anything, yeah, it’s cool that I do that, but I should be giving my all where it’s completely uncomfortable for me to do so. I don’t think the cross was too comfortable, so maybe I shouldn’t settle with where I’m comfortable. Every now & then this fire gets lit and I get TICKED at how I’ve lived my life. Now would be one of those times.

I have to wonder how comfortable it was for Moses to stand in front of Pharaoh and tell him to let a whole group of people go from his grasp. Probably not so comfortable considering he had a stuttering problem. I have to wonder if Abraham felt all sorts of warm, fuzzy feelings when he tied his son to an altar and prepared to sacrifice him. My gut tells me that he had issues with that one. To make things a little more present-day.. I have to wonder if the girl named Cassie from the Columbine High School massacre was completely calm when she said yes to believing in God.

Fact: Our belief in God should probably be putting us in situations that are, at the absolute VERY least, slightly uncomfortable. To be real, if we’re doing it right, it should probably make us UNFATHOMABLY uncomfortable at first. Granted, I understand we should probably follow our strengths in how we profess our commitment to Christ, but that doesn’t mean that we follow our comfort zones. Example: I’m studying church music. I’m going to be playing music in a church. Well hello. A tad comfortable for someone who has grown up in the church. But what can I do with music to be surrounded by people who don’t know Christ? Well hello.. There’s an entire secular music world out there. My dream, for those of you who don’t know, is to be a recording artist. It’s what I’ve wanted to do since I was about 4 years old. Some dreams never change. To be real, it’s been one of those things that everyone knew, but I would never say. I always thought it was kinda dumb to want to do that because, well, I realized I wasn’t exactly surrounded by opportunity. Fountain County. Yeeaaaaaah. Not exactly the land of opportunity for someone who’s aspiring to be a recording artist. People always told me I should go for American Idol in high school, but I knew one, I didn’t have the talent for it. Two, I didn’t have the persona for it. Three, it was unrealistic all the way around. It’s not my thing anyway. There are some PHENOMENAL singers who have been snubbed on American Idol. It’s all entertainment-based, not talent-based. Sure, talented people show up. They have to put some good people on there. But I don’t think the best have been given a fair shot. ANYWAY. The secular music world is absolute trash right now. Look at the music artists like Lady Gaga are putting out. The truly mind-boggling part of it? TONS of Christians are buying her music! I’m guilty! I have a song of hers on my iTunes. But I guess it’s just now hitting me that I’m not just supporting the music; I’m supporting the moral filth encompassing those songs. That’s fighting for the wrong side! I would love to be involved with the secular music world, just so I can produce songs that are positive and carry a meaningful message. Girls are bombarded with this disgusting idea that they have to be promiscuous in order to turn a guy’s head. They have it in their minds that being super skinny is the only way to be attractive, and that wearing skimpy clothes that show off EV-UH-REE-THING is the only way to dress. Guys seem to think that sleeping with numerous women is the cool thing to do. Being a complete jerk is impressive, according to much of the music out there. Drinking is what the in-people do. One-night stands are completely acceptable. I’ll end this portion of the rant here. The answer is no. I won’t support music like that. I don’t need to be cool. If it’s going to cost me my dignity, then I don’t need it.

So what does it look like to step outside your comfort zone and actually reach people for Christ? What does it look like to go somewhere COMPLETELY new and conquer new territory in Christ’s name? A good start would probably be some pretty viscous prayer. Ferocious, unapologetic, unabashed, unhinged, VISCOUS prayer. Not just for God to send workers, but for God to send workers where no one else will go, and for God to make ME one of those workers. Guys, there’s a battle going on. There’s a game that needs to be won. I didn’t spend years in church and youth group “training” (so to speak) just to sit on the sidelines now. I didn’t go through what I went through, the mountains and the valleys, just to sit back and let someone else do my job. You might be thinking I’m wasting my time sitting here writing this, and that’s true.. but I will say it’s past midnight. =P I know, excuses, excuses. I have some viscous prayer to be praying.

I mean it. Pray fearlessly. Pray like you WANT to be praying. Pray like it means something to you. Pray like you’re begging God to accomplish part of His will through a broken and desperate sinner who still doesn’t understand half this Jesus stuff, but is willing to go when he says the word. That’s what I can do at 12:18 AM..

Pray on friends. And pray viscously. Make Satan shudder.

What Do I Know of Holy?

I made You promises a thousand times
I tried to hear from Heaven
But I talked the whole time
I think I made You too small
I never feared You at all
If You touched my face would I know You?
Looked into my eyes could I behold You?

What do I know of You
Who spoke me into motion?
Where have I even stood
But the shore along Your ocean?
Are You fire? Are You fury?
Are You sacred? Are You beautiful?
What do I know? What do I know of Holy?

I guess I thought that I had figured You out
I knew all the stories and I learned to talk about
How You were mighty to save
Those were only empty words on a page
Then I caught a glimpse of who You might be
The slightest hint of You brought me down to my knees

So what do I know of You
Who spoke me into motion?
Where have I even stood
But the shore along Your ocean?
Are You fire? Are You fury?
Are You sacred? Are You beautiful?
What do I know? What do I know of Holy?

What do I know of Holy?
What do I know of wounds that will heal my shame?
And a God who gave life its name?

What do I know of Holy?
Of the One who the angels praise?
All creation knows Your name
On earth and heaven above
What do I know of this love?

What do I know of You
Who spoke me into motion?
Where have I even stood
But the shore along Your ocean?
Are You fire? Are You fury?
Are You sacred? Are You beautiful?

What do I know? What do I know of Holy?

What do I know of Holy?

“What Do I Know of Holy?” -Addison Road

Hi, I’m Hannah and I run this blog. Yeah, I know, been quite a while. But here we go again!

This song has had one killer impact on my life ever since it debuted on the radio. This song is so much of what I’ve felt for so long. Not in a bad way, but in a, “Honestly, what do I know of you?” sort of way. Sure, I can read the Bible and go to church all I want. I can wear the Jesus get-up. I can hang out with the right crowd. I can choose a major that has the word “ministry” in it. I can get up and give a devotional that makes people think. I can serve in a church. I can talk someone through a crisis and tell them to lean on God. But what do I even know of holy?!?! I can do all those things time and time again, but God, what do I know of you?!!! This question has been one that has slammed me against a spiritual wall time and time again. That question is so.. profound, isn’t it? When you think about what you know ABOUT God, you might know quite a bit. But what do you know OF him? I feel like as Christians, we compete against each other to see who can be the most profound, who can answer questions about God the fastest and most accurate, on and on. You know what I’m talkin’ ’bout. We race to get our doctorates in theology. We race and compete to write the best books, the ones that will leave the most profound impact on others. Fantastic. Lovely. But what do we know of the love of God? We know nothing! We might know a little bit, but in comparison to how great, how perfect his love is, we know absolutely nothing. We equate his love to be something that a human being can give us and it can’t even be compared to a human’s love. Perfect love. The thought of it completely blows my mind out of the water.

This week has been a very rough week for me in so many ways. Sunday I found out Bryce was in a wreck which instantly sent me into panic mode. I don’t know what I would have done if that kid wouldn’t have made it through it. He’s still like a little brother to me. This summer brought enough death. No more for a while. Ever since Sunday, things have just been.. well, yeah. Rough is the only word for it. Academically it’s been a long week. Relationally it’s been a VERY long and VERY tough week. Emotionally it’s been a screwed up week. Spiritually it’s been a confusing week. Physically it’s been a .. weird week (wasn’t quite sure how else to finish that). It’s 1:30 AM and I should really be in bed, but I can’t sleep although I’m completely exhausted. I just can’t get past that question.. Are you fire? Are you fury? Are you sacred? Are you beautiful? Lord, what do I know? What do I know of Holy? Ever have those times where you just want to crawl up in God’s lap and just let him hold you? That’s been this week. Somehow I’ve managed to mess plenty up this week and I just wanna crawl under the covers of my bed and not come out for a very long time. But it’s okay! These weeks are good things I think! Sometimes.. =P Right now it’s a good thing. A bad week every now and then doesn’t mean the world’s ending.. It’s a reminder that life isn’t perfect. =P But I AM ready for things to get better. I suppose it didn’t help that the weather was more or less horrible all week. Ah well. Anyway…

Right now I’m reading through all of Paul’s letters. I’ve never actually read them in order and all at once. Yes, I’ve read them all, but I’m just drawn to a lot of Paul’s teachings right now, although I feel like Peter now more than ever. Completely stubborn, headstrong, and so passionate he gets himself in trouble, dangit! I’m not trying to brag of any amount of passion. What I’m saying is, I’m quite prone to doing stupid things right now. =P I guess you could say stupid things with good intentions. I’m just so hungry and thirsty for knowledge and wisdom of who this God is that I serve, that I’ve decided to dedicate my life to. Everything in me craves to look him square in the eyes. I want to see his face, just as Moses did. It leaves me awe struck to know that Moses couldn’t even look at his face.. God had to cover his face when God passed by him, because he would have died otherwise. I think that answers the “Are you sacred? Are you beautiful?” line. It’s just so frustrating to think about how so many people, with myself at the top of the list, can dig and dig for answers, but it makes no difference if we know nothing about God’s heart, his love for us, and his divine holiness.

So what do I know of you who spoke me into motion? Where have I even stood but the shore along your ocean?
Are you fire? Are you fury? Are you sacred? Are you beautiful?
Lord, what do I know?
What do I know of Holy?

Victoria Donner

Sometimes you can cattle rope your heart and sometimes you can't.

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