Category Archives: Faith

So little faith…

Imagine that of all the moral debates throughout time, there was one that you were 100% sure that you knew the truth about and there was no doubt at all. If you could help advance that truth but you would have to condone 4 of the 7 deadly sins and act as if they were not a big deal, would it be worth it? In order to advance truth would you undermine other areas of truth?

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I believe there are many Christians today that have and are embracing things and people that are anti-Christ in order to try
to be the hand of God instead of being faithful
to the hand of God.

Sometimes our truth may indeed be God’s truth and in God’s plan, but if we try to force the hand of God, we are in reality showing a lack of faith. Be faithful and patient as we trust God’s timing and try to share truth with love and grace.

Reading: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Listening to: Sia – Everyday is Christmas

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Liars & Riches

“God, I’m asking for two things

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Image from whowhatwhy.org.

before I die; don’t refuse me—
Banish lies from my lips
and liars from my presence.
Give me enough food to live on,
neither too much nor too little.
If I’m too full, I might get independent,
saying, ‘God? Who needs him?’
If I’m poor, I might steal
and dishonor the name of my God.” – Proverbs 30:8,9

I’ve run across this passage in a few different readings and conversations over the past few months. I’m not very superstitious, but when something comes across my path more than once, I do try to pay attention.

It’s very possible that I’ve had too much food to live on in my life lately. I’m wondering if I’ve grown too independent and maybe not shown proper thankfulness and appreciation for what I have. I know that in my past I’ve had too little and dishonored my faith. So now I wonder how I’m doing with banishing lies from my lips and keeping liars from being in my presence. How do I banish liars that aren’t healthy for my faith without isolating myself from the world that needs a people who are trying to live out an honest faith? And how do you really become aware of the lies that you are telling yourself?

I am interested/concerned in how this generation is growing up with so much information at our disposal and yet there is so much issue with mis-information. When our leaders trouble with what is true and what would be convenient to be true, there are bound to be repercussions that will resonate through our country.

May we have eyes to see the lies that we are telling ourselves and others and may we be cautious of the company we keep.

Listening to: A Tribe Called Quest – We got it from Here

 

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Beauty of a Parable.

I have been reading one of Peter Rollins books lately, The Fidelity of Betrayal, and was really intrigued by one of the parables he shares. I was just about to write it all out to share, and then found it on YouTube! So here you go. This guy is so refreshing to me in my faith right now.

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Brian McLaren’s latest

Anyone checking out Brian McLaren’s latest?

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A Rock or the Devil?

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“Get behind me, Satan!” (Jesus) said. “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”

Imagine having a conversation with Jesus and your friends. In this conversation, as you share your thoughts and opinions, Jesus looks at you and says that God the father is at work in your life and that the Holy Spirit has plans to use you greatly for the Kingdom of God. What a moment that would be. I think it would be quite natural to feel a real sense of pride and honor that you are where God wants you to be, in an area of spiritual growth and maturity. Now imagine your surprise when only a few minutes later as you continue to share your “wisdom and insight” Jesus turns to you and calls you the father of lies and that you are a stumbling block to him. Wow. What a turn around.

When it comes to the hot topics of our day, I believe it is very easy for us to act like Peter. In some ways our faith may be very mature and God is pleased with us as we journey with Him. In these moments it is very natural to be proud and honored for the growth that the Spirit has provided in our lives. It’s easy to identify with this part of Peter’s story, but the other part of the story is one that is not so easily understood or realized. Even in our mature faith, is it possible that we have in mind the things of men and not of God? Are there areas of our lives and faith that have been polluted over time with the themes of men: power, control, and arrogance instead of the themes of the Kingdom: service, love, and humility?

I continue to realize that there is nothing in life that is as black and white as when I was a youth. The world of comic books are so appealing to so many people because they allow us to have a clearly defined “evil” that is readily identified and easy to attack. The journey of faith is one that keeps us humble and always seeking to be where God is encouraging us as being a “Rock” and not as being “the Devil”. May we have eyes to see and courage to admit when we’ve been too quick to make judgments and form opinions that might not have the things of God truly at heart.

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Those Christians

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While I was recently in New Orleans with for the 2009 ELCA Youth Gathering, I had the opportunity to hear one of my favorite authors Donald Miller. His book Blue Like Jazz made the New York Times best seller list. He was going to be a keynote speaker on Saturday night and it was something that I was definitely looking forward to during our adventures at the gathering. The students were aware of this and so we even showed up a little early to the Superdome hoping to get floor seats and be a little closer to the action. There was one story that he shared that I’ve thought about several times since. He said that as he was traveling he overheard two ladies talking about the disaster of Katrina in New Orleans. They spoke about how they were disappointed in the events that happened after the disaster with the lack of “urgency” that they saw from the government. It was the next comment he heard from them that struck him most. “Do you know who’s really helping out down there? It’s those Christians.” He then discussed how he hoped that this would be something that would be heard more often, that “those Christians” are really helping out and making a difference in the world.

During the youth gathering, it was estimated that all the service work we would do over our short time together, would be more than could be accomplished in 3 years with the current amount of service work that is being put in. I hope that in my community, the actions of the people of faith can really begin to promote the stereotype that “those Christians” really want to make a difference and help our neighbors. May God’s grace, peace, mercy and love be seen in us today.

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What is Boldness?

Champion-of-the-universeSometimes I hear people use the word boldness and I’m almost positive they would be better off using the word arrogance. Working with people of faith on a regular basis I hear language that says the gospel message needs to be shared boldly. In case you are wondering, the gospel message as discussed in Christian circles is the “good news” that God loves us so much that He has made a way for peace with Himself, others and creation through His son Jesus Christ. So my question is what do people mean by sharing the gospel message with boldness? If it means that I’m not embarrassed to say that I trust and believe in the good news than I guess I understand and I’m okay with that idea. If it means that I act like I’ve “arrived” and know it all because I believe the “good news” than I’m really confused. Somewhere being bold and unashamed to share my beliefs about the good news even though it might not be accepted, has been replaced with arrogance about my beliefs in view of the beliefs of others. God’s love and grace cannot be seen in us when we act as if we are better than others. The good news can only truly and honestly be expressed in the stories of God’s grace in our lives that help us through our sin, pain, and daily adventures. My question for today is…am I arrogant about my beliefs or do I share them without being embarrassed and with humility? May God’s good news be communicated clearly in the way I live my life.

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Coping skills.

Just though I’d share a quick update on some of the ways that i’ve been coping with the death of my friend, Ben Schone. For the past two years, I’ve been seeing a great therapist to help me grow as a person and to work through issues that I believe have held me back from being all I can be. Needless to say, I’ve really appreciated my time with him since this has all happened. I know my self well enough to understand that this definitely wasn’t going to be something that I was going to be able to just hide deep down inside and not deal with. I chose early on to confront my sadness head on and try to learn from what my emotions and pain could teach me. That being said, here are some of the ways that I’ve found effective in helping me honor my friends memory and move through my grieving process.

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First, I bought a pair of shoes that reminded me of him. Chuck Taylors. I was already considering buying a pair for the summer, but knew this would be a way for me to remember him daily as i got dressed and to say a prayer for his family, our friends, and to seek ways to honor his memory that day. 

Second was to listen to music that reminded me of him, and to check out music that I remember him wanting me to listen to. Ben was a huge Muse fan and so I’ve listened to more of their music. I’m also very excited  that Muse will be opening for U2 when i see them in concert in October in Atlanta. I look forward to enjoying my favorite band and his together in one great night of music. 

Last has been watching South Park. Although I have found bits and pieces of South Park funny in the past, I’ve also found it to be in bad taste from time to time and so never really became a fan. One of the things that I remember Schone doing was impersonations of characters from the show. In particular Cartman and Jimmy were two that he could really get me laughing with. I watched the episode called Krazy Kripples the other day and smiled the whole way through. It was like hearing Ben sitting next to me again, doing his impression of Jimmy.

I know people deal with grief in many different ways and with much different timing. Hopefully in some way this can encourage all who have lost loved ones to find ways to remember with fondness the people who have left us too soon.

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The passing of a friend…Ben Schone.

My friend Ben Schone has left us as of April 7, 2009.  I guess when someone you love goes in such a tragic way; it is always scary, haunting, and shocking. As I think about his death I really want to get some ideas out. I’m writing this mostly because I feel like many people will be asking questions that pertain to this and also because it is helpful for me to write it.

When someone commits suicide do they go to hell? First of all to be completely honest, I don’t know. I cannot give an answer to that question no matter who the person is or how they die. What I can give an opinion on is according to my faith, does someone who commits suicide go to hell because of the act itself. My thoughts…suicide does not mean that someone will go to hell.

The idea that suicide is a damnable sin has come from the idea that life is to be valued and that we submit our lives to our creator. It’s thought that when someone commits suicide that they are in fact, by their actions, saying “screw you God, I don’t trust you with my life” and then ending their life. In this way the person would be defiant and turning their back on God.

For any of us who have lost someone in this manner, I highly doubt that this is ever the case. Usually, from my experiences in life, suicide is someone feeling overwhelmed with emotions and circumstances and finding themselves not able to deal with them through typical coping skills. Chemical imbalance is much more often the cause of someone ending their own life, not someone being defiant of God. 

A second part of the idea that if you commit suicide you are going to hell comes from the fact that it is a sin to take a life even you own and so if it’s your last act, you aren’t able to receive forgiveness and would be damned. I strongly disagree with this as well. God isn’t limited by our mistakes. Imagine if you were falling off of a cliff on accident and on the way down cursed God out of loose lips as you were panicking on the way down. It’s a sin to take God’s name in vein; do you think you would go to hell? I certainly don’t think that God’s ultimate judgment of my life would have anything to do with a slip of the tongue being my final act before death. Neither do I believe that doing something as harmful as suicide as your final act would lead to damnation.

I guess I’m saying all of this to ease people’s minds and to hopefully help us to focus on what I believe we should focus on when someone that we love passes. I believe we must focus on moving through our sadness and cherishing the life of the one who has passed. To take what that person has meant to us and be sure that it never dies in us. Make sure that the person lives on in the way that we live, love, and relate to others. May the beauty and wonder of our friend Ben Schone live on in us.
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Losing the taste.

Tomorrow night Blitzen Trapper is going to be in town at the Orange Peel. I’m excited to go check them out, and tickets are only $12! Now the only song that I know of theirs is “furr” but it’s made its way onto my most played list over the past few months. Here’s my favorite lyric, it’s really affected me lately…blitzen_trapper

“And I lost the taste for judging right from wrong
For my flesh had turned to fur, yeah
And my thoughts, they surely were
Turned to instinct and obedience to God.”

The way I hear it, the guy has gone to live among a pack of wolves.  When he does he loses the taste for judging right from wrong and instead turns to instinct and obedience to God. Instead of being concerned with judging those around him, he wants to live the best life possible and obey God. Maybe I’m totally wrong on the meaning of this lyric, but I find it so beautiful.

If you haven’t noticed, lately I’ve really been stuck on the habit that I see in the lives of myself and others to judge other people constantly. I don’t know if I’m trying to find a cure or just understand it better so that I can live better. It just seems that at some point during each day I observe, partake, or ponder on the idea of judging. Immediately words of Jesus teachings flood my head that speak to how judging is not healthy or wise.

…do not judge or you will be judged…
…in the same way you judge others, you will be judged…
…I came not to judge the world, but to save it…

Still over and over it seems to me that “religious” people are the ones that are the quickest and best at judging others. It seems that many people are far more concerned about whether or not someone else is making a mistake than working on correcting the mistakes in their own lives. I’m constantly reminded that if I really want to effect change, I need to be the change I want to see. Still so many want to shove things in someone else’s face instead of showing the mercy that we would like to receive. It’s almost like we feel like we don’t deserve mercy so we never give it to anyone else. We don’t think that others will be forgiving of our mistakes so we don’t forgive others. I am so thankful that those that love me don’t shove my mistakes in my face all the time. In fact, those that care about me usually show me the most love when I mess up. They remind me that I am not my mistakes and that it is possible to grow and leave them in past. I’ve found that their love in the face of my imperfections is what motivates me to move beyond my faults to a better way.

The choice is always there to judge or love.
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
– 1 Cor. 13:13

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