Yes its true my meds keep me normal

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When I was in third grade I was diagnosed with ADD. I don’t remember every drug they tried but I remember that I took a drug called Cylert because none of the other drugs worked. For most of you that means nothing at all so I want to tell you a little bit about Cylert. Now when most people hear ADD or ADHD they instantly go to Ritalin because that is what is most often prescribed and for people with ADD or ADHD it tends to help them alot. But if Ritalin doesn’t work they try a couple of other things that get incrementally more dangerous as you go up. Cylert is the top of the chart. I had to get liver tests every 6 months to make sure that it wasn’t doing too much damage. When I was diagnosed ADD was kind of the cutting edge diagnosis. Basically if he is overactive and we don’t know what it is we’ll call it ADD. Its further confused because ADD has no unique symptoms, its shares symptoms with depression and generalized anxiety disorder. When I was 25 I was re-diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and to my surprise the very first medication I was prescribed did wonders! Cylert is a stimulant so it messes with your system quite a bit and what I’m on now is not and doesn’t require blood tests. So for almost 16 I had been on a dangerous drug that did nothing but put me in a fog because I was misdiagnosed.

Now I know I’m a minister and this is supposed to be a spiritual blog, don’t worry I had to tell you all of that to start you off where I was when I thought of something. The reason all medications for ADD didn’t work was because I didn’t have ADD. Now they found something that kind of dealt with the symptoms but it never really helped with the problem. I think we at times do something similar to that in our churches. We notice problems the church is suffering with and we start throwing programming at it. “Oh our parents don’t seem to know how to effectively parent there kids? Let’s do a series of parenting classes.” “Oh the older members are complaining alot about not being considered? Lets start a golden oldies class so we they can have a class they feel is directed to them.” “Hey our teens don’t seem to have very much biblical knowledge! Lets start a Bible Bowl ministry so we can get them to study more.” Now I am not saying programming is wrong, that we shouldn’t have it, or even that they aren’t doing any good. What I’m asking is are we throwing medications at the symptoms and not spending time looking at the problem.

What if the parents don’t know how to parent because their parents used all the programs we are throwing but didn’t understand the basic concepts and principles of parenting? What if they know what to do but not why they are doing it?  What if the reason the older members are complaining about being neglected because they are lonely? What if the problems they are having have nothing to do with what happens on Wednesdays and Sundays but the fact that those are the only times they see anyone? What if the reason the kids don’t have a whole lot of knowledge is because the children’s ministry has been hodgepodged for 30 years and no real lesson plan has assured they get a good foundation? What if the problem is that parents aren’t taking time to study themselves and expecting the programs at church to take care of their kids for them?

If all we are doing is coming up with different programs to deal with the symptoms and not the problem we might find some things that help for a while but eventually they won’t work any more. Then we’ll have to do a bigger program that takes up more man hours and more energy. But what if the parenting classes we chose to implement taught less about what to do and more why to do it? What if  we started getting the retirees together for lunch a couple days a week so that they could see each other?

In my experience what we tend to do as a fellowship is throw money and programming at problems so that we can deal with them super fast and often times we don’t stop to look if what we are doing is actually addressing the problem. To do that risks people getting fed up and leaving and that means our membership will go down. If our membership goes down we won’t be able to maintain the programming we have going financially and man power wise. Those are very real concerns, but I truly believe that if we will take the time to address the problems and not the complaints we will find our congregations more energized and less programmed into compliance because they are doing so many things they don’t have time to stop and see the problems.

I think that if we stopped and looked we would find that the programming necessary to address the problems people in the congregation are having, we would find that the answers are very simple, very easy to implement, and you will have a hard time finding work for all the volunteers to do.

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Self-Righteousness vs. Real-Righteousness

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If you come to Christianity looking for black and white I think you might be out of luck. I grew up in my faith thinking that with Christianity there were no shades of gray, that a relationship with God dealt only in black and white. By that I mean that there was an absolute right and wrong in every situation that was irrespective of the individuals involved in the situation. As I have grown in my faith I have learned that there is actually alot of things left up to us.

To me a reliance on absolutes shows a shallow faith. I don’t say that as a judgement, its an observation from my own life. It’s really easy to stand up for “what’s right” when you believe that your idea of right is the absolute truth. It’s easy when you believe what is right for you is right for everyone. You don’t have to question whether what you are doing violates your own conscience. You don’t have to listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit in your life. You don’t have to let Him tell you how your relationship with God is. You can really ignore him completely. The question is what do you do when you read, “ So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves.,” Romans 14:22? What do you do with the passage when it says if you believe its wrong then for you it is wrong? How do you apply a blanket black and white rule when God says, “Really that’s up to you how to interpret this?”

I think maybe one of our flaws come in viewing Christianity as a corporate lifestyle with individual elements instead of an individual relationship with corporate elements. Looking at it this way we start dealing with entitlements and judgement that I don’t think have any place in a relationship with Jesus. I think of it like looking through the eyes of a younger sibling. This is completely speculation because I neither have, nor am a younger sibling. To me its like the younger sibling and looking at all the things the older sibling is allowed to do that the younger is not. Now we all know that there is nothing wrong with making mac and cheese on the stove, but letting a 4 year old do it isn’t a good idea. So we tell the younger sibling that its wrong for him to make mac and cheese on the stove top but it’s not wrong for the 15 year old to do it. Looking at Christianity as a corporate lifestyle would be like that 4 year old saying that, instead of it being wrong for him, it is wrong for everyone to make mac and cheese on the stove. Then anytime the 15 year old older sibling makes mac and cheese on the stove the 4 year old giving him a sound scolding for doing something that is wrong. The thought of it is ridiculous but it really isn’t all that different. Looking at Christianity as a personal lifestyle would be like the 4 year old realizing that its not right for HIM to make mac and cheese on the stove, but it doesn’t mean that making mac and cheese on the stove is wrong. Maybe this is an oversimplification of the issue but it makes sense in my head.

Now don’t get it twisted and think that I’m saying there is no absolute right and wrong. I believe they are, and they are specified in God’s word. For instance infidelity is one of those things that is absolutely wrong. And everyone would agree that extramarital sex is wrong. But if that’s all we have to worry about that’s a pretty low bar set. All I have to do to be faithful to my wife is not have sex with another woman that’s easy. But to me infidelity means alot more. It means that if I put anything, other than my relationship with God, in front of my relationship with my wife I am being unfaithful. To me the man who spends more time and energy at his job than he does on his relationship with his wife, he has been unfaithful. To me the man that holds his own desires above the needs of his wife, he has been unfaithful. To me the man that turns to other women or other people for the emotional relationship he should have with his wife has been unfaithful. But that’s what I believe, and while I think its a great way to look at things, I have no right to hold you to that. That’s is what the Holy Spirit said to me. I have to work hard at not judging the people I see doing what would be wrong for me. Now does that mean I can’t tell other people about what I believe? Absolutely not and to do that would be selfish. The Holy Spirit has revealed something to me, I should share that. But if I go beyond telling you what I was told then I step into that judgement realm and my study has led me to believe that’s wrong too. Judgement is not my job, that’s Jesus’. My job is to tell what I’ve been told.

In an effort to be righteous we have equated with being right with being righteous. So instead of studying and listening to what the Holy Spirit tells us, we look to the word to find out what is absolutely right and wrong and then apply our interpretation as what the word says as absolute truth. The problem is we can all read the exact same thing and come to different conclusions, so who is right? Is your interpretation right because you can read Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, and Ethiopic? Is mine right because I know more about the culture it was written in? WHO’S INTERPRETATION IS RIGHT?!?!?!

There was a group that set about to define that for everyone and when THE authority came he said “You’ve heard it said, but I say to you.” Basically he took the bar and set it even higher and harder. The message I got was it wasn’t about righteousness because righteousness for us is unattainable. The message was about relationship. Only through a relationship would righteousness be available to us. And it doesn’t belong to us.

You have an option: You can have self-righteousness, which no one says they want but we all tend to choose that more often than not, or you can have real-righteousness, but that only comes with giving up the need to be right. When we are presented with flaws in what we thought were absolute truths an option is placed in front of you: Do I hold to what I have always believed to be right and sink my heels in and refuse to let go of the righteousness I’ve built up for myself; OR do I value my relationship with my Brother and Savior enough to let go of it and do what I know to do now? The problem is I have to admit that I might have been wrong about something, and I don’t like doing that.

Have you ever ridiculed a child who just learned to walk for having crawled previously? Why not? You and I both know that humans were made to walk on two feet and that’s the best way of propulsion available to us. Why wouldn’t you think a baby was stupid for ever crawling? We weren’t made to crawl. Giraffe babies are running with in minutes of being born so I mean there’s that. So why wouldn’t you ever consider a crawling baby as foolish? The idea sounds funny doesn’t it, but its not a joke. If you would no more consider a baby foolish for getting around the only way it knew how until it was ready for a different way, why would you do the same thing to yourself and to your brother in your faith. Maybe we could get alot further as a people if we would stop kicking crawling babies and help them learn to walk. Maybe if instead of pointing out what you are doing wrong I could spend my time showing you what I have found to be a better way. Maybe we could realize that we aren’t as far along in our faith as we think we are and maybe we can realize that there are others ahead of and behind us. Maybe we can realize that God works in us all differently but loves us all equally. Maybe if we could stop expecting babies to run and start helping them learn to walk we could have more people crossing the finish line. Righteousness isn’t a goal its a gift. Self-righteousness is a hobble, an anchor, a stumbling block, and a hindrance to you and anyone you throw it at. You would do well just to do away with it all together.

Duck Dynasty and Dumpster Men.

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How grateful are you? Recently I have hit this patch where I am hyper aware of the people in my life that do awful jobs and I am extremely grateful. What sparked it was walking out to my car today with almost intolerably cold and windy weather conditions. It was miserable to be in just to walk out to the car, and then I realized; my garbage men are riding on the back of a truck picking up other people’s garbage, all day. I have never thanked them for that. Is it their job? Yeah they get paid for it. But still when was the last time you thought to say thank you to these men? If you are like me then most of the time even if you are out there when they are you try to pretend they aren’t there. If it were not for them you would have piles and piles of moldy bread and Chick-Fil-A wrappers to deal with. I spent my short drive to work trying to think of ways I could thank them for what they do.

The other thing that came to my mind was how thankful I am to my brothers over at Duck Commander. They have no way to know how much joy they bring into my life just by simply letting me watch them live. I find my self saying “Well Hey” and “Jack” way more than I used to. I have also adopted the Phil Robertson thumbs up. I don’t know why it just seems happier and more enthusiastic than a normal thumbs up. These people are a part of my family and even though they have no idea who I am, they bring me so much encouragement. The best days I have are ones that start with watching their show. There is so much negativity in this world, ESPECIALLY on that television. Its nice to know that I have family committed not just to putting out something fun to watch but using that as a springboard to give people hope. I think that’s what makes this show so special to me.

So what does that have to do with being grateful? I don’t know the Robertson’s, even though I’ve read Willie and Korrie’s book and plan to read Phil’s. The Robertson’s don’t know me. But I am thankful to them for the encouragement they bring me. I would like to meet them, not because they are famous, but because I would like a chance to tell them face to face that I appreciate what they do. And this sparks another thought in me. Gratitude, REAL gratitude, inspires action. Because I became aware of my gratitude I wanted to do something for these people that I don’t even know. If Jase Robertson were to send me a tweet asking me to pick him up at the airport and drive him to West Virginia, I have to say I would do it. And it isn’t because from what I have seen of him, he seems to be a kindred spirit, its because I almost I feel like I owe him for the joy he has unknowingly brought me. It’s not an indebtedness but more of a I WANT to do something for not just Jase but even my garbage man. If he were to come up and ask me to use the bathroom or for a cup of coffee or something, I would happily do that.

It made me wonder how much of what I do is based on my gratitude. Shouldn’t the life I live be based on the gratitude of what Jesus did for me? I’m not talking about in the philosophical sense I’m talking about practicality. If I feel so grateful to my garbage man and a duck call making redneck, why do I act out my faith from obligation? Jesus the man gave his life for me, he didn’t just take my garbage to a landfill, he made it go away forever. Jesus the man gave me access to joy that doesn’t end a day or two later, not just broke a samurai sword cutting up fruit. And he has asked me for a favor, approach life looking for opportunities to bring people into him.

The past couple of weeks I’ve been struggling with a few people I interact with who are ministers as well. I have watched them be divisive, offensive, exclusive, and self righteous in one breath and then in the next one talk about grace and acceptance. I’ve watched them try to make the world meet Christ on their terms. I’ve struggled with anger and disappointment at the things they said and the mindset they appeared to have. I spent way too much time trying to figure out what to say to them to make them realize what they are doing. I wanted to show them that they were alienating people. I wanted to fix them and make them the way they should be. And then like a 2×6 (he used to use 2×4’s but I built up a tolerance) it slaps me in the face; I was trying to do the same thing they were doing. 

It always worries me when minister’s talk about anything with great certainty other than salvation. And when I say minister’s I mean even myself. The times I am most uncomfortable are when I realize I think I have the right answer to a question about faith. When that happens in my life it tends to become a soap box. And what I have noticed in the ministerial world is we don’t stand on soap boxes any more we wield them like weapons. We take that soap box that we are so sure is solid and we bash people to death with it. We tell them that the way they praise God is wrong. We tell them that the place they are worshiping is shameful. We tell them that the clothes they are wearing to services are disrespectful to God. And we bash and slam and crush until we meet with a logic or a reasoning sturdier than our soapbox and then we usually smash our soap box to bits. The smart thing to do at that point is to study just exactly what it was that destroyed our soap box and see what made it so strong. What we usually do, at least to my observation, is retreat back into our clubhouse with all the other people who have soapboxes like mine and put mine back together with their help and then back out I go. 

The only time I saw my savior take up arms was when he saw people disrespecting people looking for hope. It wasn’t going interrupt Jesus’ worship to have people in the court of the Gentiles selling sheep and trading money. It really wasn’t going to inconvenience him at all. Who it interrupted and inconvenience were people that really had no real reason to worship God anyway. Gentiles had no reason to claim anything from God. They never got to sit in on the services. Chances are they didn’t even get to hear what was being said. They for sure weren’t went in and wrecked shop because they were trying to worship YHWH in a marketplace. And he didn’t run them out so things looked like what he wanted them to look like. He wasn’t cracking the whip to make sure people dressed right or sang the way he was comfortable. I think he cleared the temple because the Jews had written the proselytes off because they weren’t like them. 

Maybe its high time we stopped acting out of what we believe is righteous indignation and more out of gratitude. That means we are going to have to leave the things that are comfortable and doing things the way Christ did. Jesus didn’t sit in the synagogue and wait for sinners to come to him, and then only when they dressed and acted appropriately. He went out and sat at the well with the Samaritan woman. He called Zaccheus down from the tree to go to dinner at his house. He met sinners where they were and offered them hope. His message never changed, but his presentation did. He didn’t tell shepherds using parables about fishing. He didn’t teach farmers using tax collector jargon. He saw exactly how people were and where they were, under the fig tree or in the leper colony, he went to them and offered them hope. 

He has asked us to spread the same hope the same way. Go to where the sick, lost, hurt people are and offer them hope. Not offer them the chance at hope if they fit into what Christ has put on your heart to be. Offer them the hope that you have. The hope you have is that as broken and wrong as you are ALL THE TIME, he can still use you and he still wants you. Ties or tank tops you are valuable to him.

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I don’t know how many unique followers I have that I don’t share with Abby but this is too good of a story not to share. I dare say in a very few short years there will be preachers using this in their sermons. I am continually amazed by this woman. Please read and enjoy!

My Essential Life

There has existed, in the annals of time, a section of Africa near the mountains of Zimbabwe, that has housed a creature of such shock and horror that the people there have refused, over multiple generations, to speak its name. And none now live who can recall to memory it’s despicable deeds.

 

Except me.

 

A long time ago there existed a village nestled snugly in a small valley. The people of this village kept the floors clean, their water unspoiled, and the children protected from wild beasts. They were a happy village, existing day-to-day in a state of peace and community, each sharing what they had with their neighbor.

 

One day a woman, in need of one more scoop of corn, came to her neighbor and asked to borrow from her supply. The neighbor woman said she would gladly loan the other woman some corn as long as she…

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Humble pie tastes terrible, but its better if you use your own recipe

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Last week I was humbled. I have recently started lifting weights again and last Tuesday we maxed out on bench and incline (that means I tested how much I could lift.) Last time I lifted I had gotten my max up to 315 on bench, something I was quite proud of. In the past I have had lapses between lifting and rarely had I lost more than 25-30 pounds on my max. So as I sat down to max again I figured that maybe I’d dropped to 275-285 and so I loaded up 250 thinking I would push that out of the way quite easily but I didn’t want to be TOO arrogant. I lifted it off the rack and I got a tad worried because it was heavy. As I lowered it to my chest my concern grew because this was REALLY heavy. At the point the bar hit my chest the concern gave way to resignation, I was NOT getting this bar back up. At the end of the night my max was 225…I had lost almost 100 pounds off of my last max. ONE HUNDRED POUNDS!!!!!!!! I was crest fallen.

There is a saying I have said, that I’m not entirely sure I didn’t come up with myself, “Be humble or be humbled.” Its how I like to think I approach life. I know that God’s power is shown in my weakness, “…my power is made perfect in weakness,” I Corinthians 12:9. I also know that its hard for God to use me if I don’t approach the tasks given me with humility, AND if I ask Him to do what He needs to do to use me, that will generally start with humbling. That humbling can be self imposed or God imposed, and doing it myself is a much more pleasant experience. But if I am unwilling or unable to humble myself to the level that is useful, I can count on God to do it for me.

I said all that to say this, I have seen a startling arrogance with in the fellowship I claim. Many claim to be familiar enough with God to speak His mind for Him. They seem to know with great alacrity things that please and displease Him that I currently do not see in what He left us. I wish I could limit this to a rare few but to my recollection this is something that I have heard throughout my life. The range of topics is quite expansive, from clothing that should be worn to what exactly constitutes “orderly worship.”

This great certainty troubles me because it gives a false sense of safety that I don’t believe we are given in scripture. I fear that pursuit of truth has become a pursuit of correctness so that we can have a concrete defense of our own actions. I see this breeding an entitlement attitude when it comes to our relationship with God. “I KNOW that what I am doing is right and therefor God MUST accept it.” There has to be a reason Paul told the Philippian church to, “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,” Phillipans 2:12

If you are looking for concrete answers to what exactly you have to do to please God, I fear my answer won’t help. I don’t know. I can’t give you any definites. Anyone that says that can is either lying (which I won’t rule out entirely but I would suggest that those people are few and far between) or is severely misguided themselves. I don’t know if this has come from the current faith culture wanting to have the guy up front tell them what they can do so they can do it and never have to do any study for themselves, or if it has arisen from a prideful mindset of ministers, wanting to have all the answers so people value them more. I dare say it is a combination of the two.

The fact of the matter is that there aren’t as many black and white issues in scripture as we would like. To be honest I wish there were because it would make things a lot easier. Maybe there wouldn’t be as many divisions among the people claiming to be family. Maybe we wouldn’t be fighting each other over things like styles of music, clapping, apparel, number of cups to use, kitchens, Sunday school, gender roles, and a myriad of other things we have used to divide ourselves. Each party believes that what they are doing is pleasing to God and what those who don’t agree with them is not. It would have been a lot easier if God had written an order of worship, job descriptions for each service we were to do, building plans for what pleases Him (Which by the way the only time he did that was when he described his tent, even the temple David designed was David’s design not God’s. I wonder if it had a kitchen), and what exactly He wants us to wear. But he didn’t. All we have is, “ Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall. So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin,” Romans 14:19-22.

I think that the flaw comes from a misconception about worship. When I stop to think about it it’s amazing to me how much like the Israelites in Jesus’ time we actually are. We rely on people that have degree’s in ministry and Masters of Divinity (what an arrogant name for a degree, and no the irony is not lost on me that I am soon to start the process of acquiring one of them) to tell us what pleases God. Instead of what animals and in what number we need to offer, we tell them how the Spirit will express Himself acceptably. Instead of what incense should we burn, we tell people what kind of praise is acceptable. Instead of how far can we travel from our home and still be within the law, we tell people what the can wear to our “worship service” and still be pleasing to God. The problem with all of this is in Hebrews we are told that all of those things were only facades pointing to what is available today. What “new order” are our “matter(s) of food and drink and various ceremonial washings—external regulations,” (Hebrews 9:10) pointing towards?

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will,” Romans 12:1-2. Worship is not something you do on Sunday Morning, Sunday Night, Wednesday Night, and on the occasions of special Gospel Meetings. Worship is something you ARE not something you DO. If God has given your body a talent, using that talent is worship. If you are an exceptional electrician, you don’t need to fix the lights down at the church building to use your talent for worship. By simply being the kind of electrician Jesus would have been, doing your job so that when people see you work and see your work it will point to something bigger than yourself, and yes that is possible, you worship God. I believe that every act of worship has its appropriate place to be performed,and just as preaching to a light switch on the evils of not doing its job would do no more good to get it to work properly than would trying to encourage a congregation by wiring their eyes to light up when they blinked (something I wouldn’t turn down if possible provided I could pick the color. OOOOOO or be able to change the color!)

“The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”  On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty,  while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it,  so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other,” I Corinthians 12L21-25. Your ministers are no more important than you are, and look at this verse a little closer. Usually we think that this is talking about all the people that work behind the scenes. What if Paul was talking about ministers when he was talking about the parts treated with “special modesty?” I mean who has more exposure in the world you or your ministers? I know that the people I attend services with interact with a TON more lost people than I do. Maybe I as a minister am the unpresentable part. Maybe I’m the part that God gave greater honor to because I’m one of the parts who’s function lacks it.

To all my family, stop treating your ministers as something special, we don’t need it and to be honest it makes life really lonely. There is nothing about what we do that makes us more special than you because we get up in front of you and share what we have learned for the week. Minister’s stop acting like what you do is more important than the man who empties portajohns, its not. God has given us the abilities we have because they are what we need to be in relationship with Him. Maybe He gave us speaking abilities and a desire to study His word not because we are not stronger than the people we serve, but because without them we wouldn’t seek a relationship with him at all. It’s time for us to stop speaking for God, and start sharing what we learned not what we already know.

Be Humble or Be Humbled.

More Human Than Human (Or…More than Human…just go with it)

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“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthinas 5:17

I am not human. I know for those who read this this is merely a confirmation of suspicions. I am not a human being. The problem for me is, I USED to be human and so sometimes I still behave like one. It never turns out well for me because what I am doesn’t function well doing human things.

It is common thought that Christianity is a religion. But it isn’t and even some of my people are under the impression that Christianity is their religion. But everything I’ve read about my people says that this isn’t merely a religion. Christianity isn’t a religion its a species.

On the surface I can understand it being written off as Rob just being silly or idealistic but if you really think about this, its kind of a game changer. “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit,” John 3:6. I think for too long we have written this off as allegory, but nothing else he said in the passage was allegorical so why would this be. The problem is that my species has an irregular gestational period inside a human and when born it doesn’t really alter tangibly. My species while here still looks like a human, still sounds like one, and at times still behaves like one.

I am awash in scripture right now that confirms my belief to the point of being overwhelmed. Because of this I’m having a hard time deciding what to put in here to try and show you what a lifetime of study has brought me to (Colossians 2; Romans 7, Romans 8, I Corinthians 15, Pretty much all of Galatians, Ephesians 6). Rather than explain how I got there I want to explain to you what this means, at least to me.

IF you can accept the fact that when you are born into the Christian species, then everything we are told in the New Testament stops being a list of rules to follow to please God. We try so hard to do the right thing to please God, to make sure that we don’t sin because it offends God. To be honest the reason we try not to sin is because we don’t want divine punishment for it. When you can accept that you are no longer a human, the words of the first of our species aren’t rules they are instructions. Realize that our species didn’t exist until Jesus raised from the dead. Because we are not creatures of instinct, and because in our gestation period we may have gotten used to being human, its hard for us to know what we are supposed to be doing as Christians. So most of the time we are trying to behave like Christians from a human perspective and it doesn’t work.

God isn’t pleased by following a religion. Christ didn’t die so that we could be forgiven when we violate some principle of a religion. What pleases God is a relationship with him. Flesh and spirit cannot have a relationship. They exist on two different planes of reality. For right now we have to exist in this plane so that we can help as many of our brothers and sisters be born as possible and so we have to have a body to be here. But make no mistake this is just a suit, I am not the flesh I wear. I am a son of God, and as they say in Pokemon, this isn’t even my final form!

So what we were left by our older brothers were instructions on how to function as a child of deity in a plane of reality we weren’t made for. We made a word for when we act human and we called it sin. Sin interferes with our relationship with our father. But over 2000 years ago Dad made provision for us so that all those mistakes don’t HAVE to stay in the way.

So how does this change the game? We have got to stop trying to participate in a religion, which is purely human, and stop trying to not make mistakes to avoid divine punishment. We are called to live differently because we are NOT HUMAN. If you choose to merely follow the rules of what you read in scripture and not understand the principles behind them, then you can get pretty good at practicing a religion. The danger in this is, religion will not save you. When this physical world ends the only way to make it out alive is to become a new species. Something that is not limited to this physical plane. There is no salvation in religion. God does not want your religion He wants a relationship.

Flesh and Spirit cannot have a relationship, so to fix that he gave us the opportunity to become like him, Spirit. What pleases God are not drones that do as they are told, blind obedience is not what He asks for. What He wants is for His children to behave as spirit beings do. Not because it makes Him happy, but because when we behave otherwise it causes us pain and God doesn’t want to see us in pain. Sinning doesn’t cause God pain, watching you experience pain as a result of living contrary to design, THAT causes God pain. That’s why He had our older brothers write down the instructions, so that we wouldn’t have to hurt unnecessarily.

If you have been born by the Spirit (which the meaning of that is a topic for a different post) you are not a human. Christianity is not a lifestyle or a religion, it is a species. God only asks that you start acting like it.

Is it really that hard? (A Rambling post)

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I was laying on the couch in my office today working on my class for tomorrow night. While I was trying to relax my mind so I could work I stared up at the bookshelf at the end of my couch. Some of the books are mine, some were required for college, and then there are quite a few from the last minister that was in this office. I looked over some of the titles: Magnificant PrayerDangerous DevotionsHot Illustrations for Youth Talks, and the list went on and on.

The question that popped into my head is, “What is the point or purpose of all these books and why are the titles so rediculous?” I mean come on “Dangerous Devotions?” Why all the sensationalism. What’s wrong with being real and having a discussion. Have we as ministers become so wrapped up in being relevant and entertaining that we have forgotten what we are supposed to be doing? 

Walk into any Christian bookstore and go to the Youth section and you will see rows of books that remind me of that one kid in high school who had almost no social skills but not only wanted to be accepted but popular and wasn’t quite sure how. So instead of being themselves they tried way to hard to be something they weren’t and it only made the problem worse. You could tell he was trying too hard to get people to like him, and all that did was really make it harder to like him. (That may or may not have been me)

Anyway, I don’t understand why we feel the need to sensationalize Christianity or make it some sort of extreme sport or lifestyle? As a Christian in America you are going to experience very little persecution other than maybe social. No one is going to kick down your door because you have 2 people more than you are allowed to have in your house.

Why can’t we be honest about what Christianity is? That’s not rhetorical because I really wonder. In the beginnings yeah it was hardcore to do the Christian thing. But now not so much. Are there places you can live where its worse? Well yeah, if you go live in a Muslim theocracy you are going to have a bad time.

Let’s just be honest here for a minute, or at least I’m going to be honest for me. I don’t consider Christianity such an extreme lifestyle. To me Extreme means doing things you really shouldn’t do with things that shouldn’t be able to do it. That’s pretty much the antithesis of what a Christian is. We are striving to live lives exactly as they were designed to be lived. Is that hard work, well yeah it is, because there are easier ways to do it, but they aren’t the right way and they never really work out. Not because of some sort of diving punisher, but simply because that’s not what we were designed to be.

I wonder, do we have it too easy? Are we making things more EXTREME than they need to be because we feel like we need to ‘earn’ our faith. We too often forget that our marching orders are “Be Still and know” and to be “anchored” and “To Stand” No parkour, no backflips, no hand to hand combat. And to suggest so is dishonest.

I don’t know, I just think its time for us to be honest. Living the way were designed is confusing and hard and tiring. Its not extreme, most of the time it doesn’t really take all that much courage. What it takes is commitment and endurance and dedication. It takes a locked jaw will that says I will not take the easy way I will do things right. It takes a humility to say that I did things the easy way and now I need to fix the mess and then do it the right way from now on. And it also means I’m going to take things as they are not as I want them to be so that I FEEL like I’m doing what I’m supposed to do. 

I guess I would like to see us, maybe just as youth ministry, start being a little more honest. Christianity isn’t a big fun party and its not a gauntlet of misery either. You don’t have to be a drug addict to have a powerful “witness.” And you don’t need a book full of interesting stories to make the word relatable. Be honest about what you gain from choosing this life and let the Holy Spirit work.

This is what you get when I write stream of conciousness lol