Isaiah 55:8 (KJV)
Tuesday, November 1, 2016
I, of course knew already, I needed to make a change. The year before I made a new years resolution to not buy anything out of the vending machines at work for a year. Before that I was buying at least a twenty once soda every day. I had made that goal but I would still go out to eat and binge on sweet carbonated beverages at least two or three days a week. Just after the new year, exercise and diet came up in a sermon. The speaker specifically hit on how he had to give up pop. I was already feeling bad because I could not physically keep up with my nephew at all anymore. I was also embarrassed that I drank more pop then the kids. The weekend before this conversation I joined a site called exercise friends, I also had a dream in which I was ashamed and lying about how much more I was eating then everyone else. But this was the final straw. I bought a scale went on a calorie restrictive diet, quit drinking pop, and started exercising every day. I do not really consider this particular incident love but as much as I hate to admit it, his blunt question and comment was ultimately helpful to me.
Wednesday, December 31, 2014
I believe we all need friends willing to do this but we most often avoid it. What experiences have you had in either receiving or giving a brutally honest message to someone you love?
*Click here for the Full Version of the Podcast
Saturday, September 13, 2014
A Christian college student meets a fellow student that is obviously in some sort of distress and wanting to talk about it. In the course of being willing to lend an ear and provide comfort, she discovers the reason this girl is upset is because her boyfriend is, as she says, “being a jerk to me, just because I had a one night stand”. Obviously not everyone agrees that a one night stand is “no big deal” as is implicit by such a protestation. In trying to care, the Christian was put in the awkward situation of trying to comfort someone she disagrees with. In order to comfort, if she says nothing about her own views of one night stands, she is automatically forced into a situation of having to agree with her. If she states her own belief she runs the risk of being thought judgmental. She could be very judgmental but disagreement does not prove this is the case. The anguish this young woman was feeling was real regardless of whether or not she deserved the anguish because she brought it on her self. How do you help someone in such a situation? Of course there is not a simple answer for every case but I suggested perhaps it might be tactful to simply ask for permission to speak ones own mind. If permission was granted she could say, “I believe your boyfriend has every right to be upset. A one night stand with someone else clearly was a serious breach in your relationship. Of course I am a Christian so I believe sex is part of a sacred union to be enjoyed within marriage. Now is an excellent time to repent.” Comforting? Loving? Offensive? Is this the only way to go about it? She could possibly ask penetrating questions, “Why do you believe a one night stand is no big deal?” “Why shouldn’t your boyfriend be upset?” “How do you feel when someone betrays your trust?”
In the course of trying to comfort someone, have you ever been put in the position of being expected to agree with something you fundamentally disagree with? How did you handle it? How should you have handled it (if you wish you handled it differently)?
Sunday, June 22, 2014
I listened as someone voiced their frustration and disappointment regarding God and their relationship with God. Questioning both the existence of God and especially God’s care for them. They mentioned they do not see eye to eye with God and expressed their anger at God. They indicated how hard they have tried to seek God through prayer and reading the Bible and doing “everything right” and yet God is silent. They are not happy with their situation and God does not seem available to help or give them a new or better situation.
Another person agreed and said how they cuss God out. “People say it’s wrong”, he said, “but I do it anyway.” Most everyone else was there to quickly lend support. “It’s okay, God can take it”, I heard one man say. “Think about David, and the Psalms, he complained to God.” The question I’m asking, is not whether or not “God can take it” the question is, how should we respond?
This is part of the topic and the question I raised in my previous post, “How To Comfort?” The struggle is real, the questions or doubts are real, and the pain is real. However, I am uncomfortable with the notion that we can and should talk to God how ever we want. Sure, God will have mercy on whom he will have mercy. (Exodus 33:19) Yet I still question if that kind of advise should be given?
It reminds me of the advise Job’s wife gave, “Curse God and Die” and the story of Job in general. In the context of the story she was literally telling him to give up. The original challenge Satan gave was, “Does Job fear God for nothing?”. Satan’s challenge was that if he was allowed to afflict Job, first by taking away his children and his possessions and then by taking his health, Job would curse God to his face. (Job 1:11; 2:5) Some make the assertion that Job’s wife was encouraging suicide, which may be true, but in the context of the story the important part was what Job did and did not say.
But he said to her, "You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?" In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
When Job’s three friends came along, the best thing they did in the bulk of the story was mourn and sit with him for seven days and seven nights without saying anything to him. (Job 2:13) I have heard that was a cultural sign of respect to not speak to Job until after Job had spoken to them to in effect ask for comfort. Such a custom would not guarantee a correct response, as is evident in the story, but it would prevent a hasty response. The rest of the book of Job, and the Bible for that matter, gives a great deal of importance to the words spoken. Particularly when we put ourselves in the position of having the answer, or purporting to speak for God.
I therefore contend that the Bible would clearly admonish us to take heed, be careful of the words we use in trying to comfort others and in how we speak to, and about God.
For More on Job and the Phrase "Curse God and Die"
Curse God and Die — Rev. Ed Hird, Rector, St. Simon’s Anglican Church
Homily: Curse God and Die — Mark Rainey
Job's Wife - Bitter, Angry, and Wrong
Saturday, May 10, 2014
Of course, Offend Me With Your Love came out of a much more personal place as well. I was going through the darkest time of my life and realized nobody loved me, at least not in a way I could really understand. I had an overwhelming desire to cut everyone out of my life and literally disappear myself permanently. The very few people in my life that cared about me would not say anything because they were afraid of offending me. This only reinforced the belief and the message, “go quietly; nobody cares.”
Who am I to say if they did the right thing or not? I am still here. I doubt ignoring a problem in the hopes that it goes away is a good general rule to live by. It may absolutely be the right answer to say nothing at times. I know I am a sinner and especially need tough love sometimes, although that is obviously not the answer in every situation either. Paul writes,
“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, KJV).The word Trouble is θλῖψις (Transliteration: thlipsis) from <G2346> (thlibo); pressure (literal or figurative) :- afflicted (-tion), anguish, burdened, persecution, tribulation, trouble.1
There is So Much Trouble in the World. It would be great to know how to give comfort. Yet we have to be honest with ourselves as believers in Y’shua *(JESUS). When non-believers look at the church and its message, they are confused. We meddle in the affairs of others outside the church without really setting our own household in order. Obviously, we should start at the household of God. How are we to comfort each other?
In upcoming posts, I will talk about some specific situations and questions I have come to in my everyday life and through reading other’s blogs. In the meantime, check out the very interesting site Net-burst.Net for many articles of encouragement on a wide range of topics.
1 James Strong, Strong's Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary, (Austin, TX: WORDsearch Corp., 2007), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: "2347".
Saturday, May 3, 2014
I have been following this blog —The Sexy Celibate: Making Sense of the Unexpected Single Life. In this post -Why it Sucks to be Unintentionally Overlooked Part III (In Which Cinderella Wears a Power Suit),* the question was raised, why “Happily ever after” has to always be found in marriage? This is from the perspective of someone that still longs to be married but the story has yet to turn out that way. Adding to the pain is the prevalent notion that happiness can not be found in other ways. Or the pain of being overlooked or undervalued (especially in church) because ones story does not represent the acceptable narrative.
My personal favorite Disney cartoon was Beauty and the Beast. Originally it was because I thought the songs were funny and the scenes in the Beast’s castle really tripped me out when I used and abused psychoactive chemicals. Unfortunately, I can relate with the Beast; he was hopeless. He was ugly because he treated people badly. Belle was praised for her beauty yet ostracized in her community for being "strange". Yet she was kind. Of course, she wanted more out of life then she was experiencing and was intrigued by tales of adventure and the notion of "meeting prince Charming". Instead of ending in marriage could it have ended with the Beast going to rehab and Belle pursuing inventing things with a generous grant from the guy formally known as the Beast? I don't want to take Disney analogies too far because typically there are false messages included as well. (I haven't seen it in awhile but an example that comes immediately to mind is that it is inadvisable for nice women to try to "save" total jerks through "dating". I did a Startpage search for, "what is the main message of Beauty and the Beast" and the first answer I read was, "Treat others the way you would want to be treated". That is a good place to start. Of course, easier said then done! Especially, when one is so depressed they wished they never woke up today. This calls our usefulness into question which can further our despair. Otherwise our wounded-ness can lead to bitterness and any number of beastly behaviors.
Often our experience of church sadly is as a place of smoke and mirrors. Even in small "Bible studies" people seemingly have to protect themselves and therefore speak so vaguely about things that what they are saying ends up meaning very little. As Sam Cox so eloquently put it in the comments for the above video, "that great contradiction in all of us - we want to be seen, heard and understood for who we are on the inside and yet that very person is the same person who would misjudge others in the first place.” The church should be as Ted Roberts puts it, “a place of practical grace… a place where hope is the dominant theme, and denial, especially religious pretending, is nowhere in sight.” In the church, amongst Christians, we should feel safe to bring all of our emotions to the light. Jesus himself was the one whom Isaiah prophesied as, “a man of sorrows acquainted with grief”. (Isaiah 53:3) I think of the saying “the church is not a museum for saints but a hospital for sinners”. I get the gist, although it hits me the wrong way because it perpetuates a false notion of what a saint truly is, Biblically speaking.
*(this post has since been removed so it is a little unclear why i am still talking about it)
A funny example of over thinking Disney films— Beauty and the Beast’s Dark Delusion
Saturday, March 22, 2014
I stumbled across this video today - Jesus Culture: Mickey Mouse Miracles are no Miracles at all- (beginning at 15:43). The first part of the video I did not find particularly special, however I did have a deep emotional response to the Will Gray Video. I mourn along with Angie, Will’s widow, and feel a tremendous amount of empathy for the pain she has experienced. In case it is not apparent from the title of the video, Bezel333 is contrasting the sickness and subsequent death of Will Gray with the inconsequential miracles of healing allegedly coming out of Jesus Culture.
As far as miracles and the supernatural are concerned I always wonder about Jesus’ apparent lack of patience in the story of the demon-possessed child when he was told his disciples failed to cast out the demon. (Matthew 17:16-17; Mark 9:18; Luke 9:40) Is Jesus really frustrated because his disciples could not cast out a demon? I hope to understand exactly what is going on here. One point Jesus makes and is particularly highlighted in Luke’s account is about how he would soon be betrayed. (Luke 9:43,44) Yet in the other two accounts the disciples ask him privately why they could not cast it out. They are told it is because of their unbelief in Matthew’s account in addition to the need for prayer and or fasting also mentioned in Marks account. (Matthew 17:20,21; Mark 9:28,29)
Elsewhere Bezel333 mentions how the miracles are inconsequential compared to the ones we read about in the New Testament Scriptures. However, to be fair most of the healings Jesus and his disciples performed were inconsequential to the writers of the New Testament Gospels. By this I mean very few were actually detailed, the rest were mentioned only in passing.
That being said, I sympathize with the overall point Bezel333 is making. I have had contact with people associated with Bethel's School of Supernatural Ministry and International House of Prayer. I have personally been troubled in the presence of “glory-tunnels”, guided visions, uncontrolled laughter for no apparent reason, and inconsequential so-called miracles of healing. In fact this reminded me of a book review I wrote in 2011 related to this topic.
Free-Falling by Chuck Parry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
An Interesting read. Some incredible stories to ponder! Free-Falling is painfully optimistic. Surely in keeping with an intended purpose for the book, to highlight the miraculous wonderful aspects of a life lived following Jesus, Chuck seems to have it so easy. It is as if Chuck is always in the right place at the right time. Painful for someone such as myself that rarely experiences this. Feeling as if I'm usually at the wrong place at the wrong time and things don't seem to work out well. I believe in the miraculous and I want to have a real faith that God is in charge and believe for Him to come through and be magnified. However, there is also a lot to be said for the struggles, the hurts or pains, disappointments, tribulation, and persecution of a life lived following Jesus. Being able to bear it without giving up or completely losing heart is ever bit as miraculous as the "good" experiences we encounter. I think me not having a firm grasp on both sides of the coin has caused me to lose heart many times which in turn caused me to backslide or try to satisfy myself outside of God's will. Therefore, I am jealous that my story doesn't read as a continual tale from glory to glory to glory.
That being said, I was present for many of the events detailed in Free-Falling, regarding the Rainbow Gathering. I can attest to witnessing several of the events described. My take on a couple of these events was very different, however. Particularly, the 2009 New Mexico gathering (pg 185-189). I was there for the worship circle and saw John after he was healed. I was even there when someone else videotaped him testifying about the healing. (I asked them to send me a copy but they never did). All that seemed really awesome however I was deeply troubled in my spirit with the events involving Jason. I was impressed by his personality, I believe he is one of those "prophetic ministry type" coming out of Kansas City perhaps. Nevertheless, I felt a deep troubling unrest when he led a "guided vision" tour of heaven (pg 189) Of course it was one of those times that I wondered what was wrong with me since all these other Christians there were on board with this. However, I have since found out that I am not alone in this. It is seen by other Christians as not a legitimate Christian practice and is instead regarded as straight from esoteric (occult) or "New Age" practices. The other thing that really bothered me was Jason's "leg lengthening" practice. This had all the appearance and reality of a cheap parlor trick. The way Jason held the legs, it was an optical illusion. I don't know why the Living God would resort to such ridiculous manifestations.
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