To Be Perfectly Honest

To be perfectly honest, I don’t know the first thing about life. It’s easy sometimes to pretend that I know what I’m talking about in my writing. Maybe some of it comes from God. I hope so. 

I haven’t exactly been around the block. I’ve barely left my doorstep. A lot of my life has been spent studying, reading, and writing in my  secluded safe-zone. I’ve lived a comfortable life- maybe that’s why everything makes me uncomfortable. I’m tired of being pitied, ignored, and rejected. But I’m afraid of love. 

So I haven’t had all that much life experience for someone my age. Maybe that’s why my writing has been suffering. Sometimes, I am afraid that I’ve learned absolutely nothing over the years. I find myself making the same mistakes over and over. I find myself overcompensating for other past mistakes. And, worse off, I find myself just as anxious or even more anxious than ever, which makes it difficult to go through life. I’m terrified of myself, the world around me, and the people who inhabit it. But mostly, I’m terrified of myself because I don’t know who I am. 

Why am I telling you all this? Well, why not? If you met me, maybe my eyes would tell the whole story anyway. I’ve never been good at hiding things. The only thing I can do is tell jokes and make the tone of my voice sound normal. But you see, that doesn’t help when people can see your body language. 

I don’t know anything. I don’t know about life. I couldn’t tell you how to change a tire to save my life. I don’t know much about the global economy, or literature, or science. I don’t even know how to make myself appear normal. The only thing I do know is that I don’t know much of anything. And the only valuable things I’ve learned have to do with God. To be perfectly honest, right now I’m pretty fed up with it all. 

I’ll try not to put on airs. I’ll try to be honest with you. I hope it helps, or maybe it just made you feel uncomfortable and depressed. I’ll tell you what I think about the Bible, but I would encourage you to read it yourself. It’s the only knowledge in this world that you can’t put a price tag on (although that happens in practice). You’ll never write anything better than the Bible, and neither will I, that much I know. 

 

 

 

 

Judgment, a Favorite Topic

If you’ve been exposed to the Bible, you’ve probably heard this verse many times:

“Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.”

-Matthew 7:1-2

I’m sure that I’ve written on this topic before, including the apparent contradictions between this verse and the instructions that Paul gives concerning the church. I do not want to address this much at the moment. Perhaps I will when I gain (or rather, am granted, more wisdom), but I will conclude with the hackneyed expression, “Judge actions, not people.” That’s a thing people say, right? More or less? 

What I do want to talk about is the trap. You know the trap. We start worrying about our friends, our family members, celebrities, random people. If they are Christians, we worry that they are not taking their faith seriously. We worry that they are not quite on the “narrow path” like we are. We stress over their sins, cringe when the cuss, recoil at their selfishness… which is better then the other way around, I suppose. But the problem is that we can become so engrossed in other people’s sin, that we completely forget our own, which could be just as bad or worse. I have many examples of this, but they are rather personal in nature. But what I can say is that I do try to preach to this one person I know. I read him certain Bible verses, and I worry about him. I may even find myself taking some of the credit for what I see as his improvement, which is kind of stupid, but very consistent with human nature. 

While at the same time, I am guilty of the very same things, and worse. Much worse, I think. 

Why do we focus so much on other people’s sin when it’s beyond our control? Why don’t we put things into God’s hands instead of trying to deal with it on our own? Maybe we can use some of the time that we spend worrying about other people, resisting gay marriage, and making fun of celebrities to really examine ourselves. Righteous indignation is, by definition, a good thing. But it turns sour when it is only directed outward and not inward, or when it becomes personal and malicious. 

 

 

Praying for People, Even the Perfect Ones

It’s hard to run out of things to write about when there are 66 books in the Bible. 

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people- for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 

-1 Timothy 2:1-3

I didn’t know that it was specifically in the Bible that we should pray for rulers, but well, there you go. I stand corrected. It’s even says that we will have “peaceful and quiet lives.” Does that mean world peace? Who knows.

That brings me to my next point. I know its fashionable nowadays to curse Obama, even among Christians, but come on, is it really necessary? Maybe we could pray for him instead, that he might be saved (if he isn’t already) and make wise decisions… just a thought. I really don’t think he’s the Anti-Christ or Satan as some people think, even if he’s not Abraham Lincoln (who, by the way, wasn’t perfect either). Obama is a person. God wants all persons to be saved. 

I know this all sounds simplistic, but I forget it constantly. I think it’s especially easy to avoid praying for those people who seem to have it all together. You know what I mean. The people who seem to know everything, powerful people, popular people, rich people. We don’t always pray for them, especially if they’re mean or bossy. We think “Screw you, you know everything already, why should I tell you the truth? It’s not like you’d listen.” That’s probably why Paul brought up powerful people in particular. They might fall under the cracks simply because no one bothers to help them out, out of jealousy or fear. 

Maybe it’s not a good idea to singlehandedly undertake your Congressman or favorite celebrity’s salvation  with weekly letters. Has anyone tried that? I’m sure there is a point where we should re-strategize our evangelistic undertakings. Yet, we can always pray for people, even if they’re hundreds of miles away, and we can always think good thoughts about them. It’s God who ultimately saves souls anyway- not us. Let’s do our part. Let’s not presume to know someone’s fate or true character. Let’s not obsess and agonize. We’ll do our part, and the rest will just happen. 

 

If you didn’t do it for God, you didn’t do it for anything

I did a lot of things today. But in a sense, I did very little. I followed through with almost everything that I’d set out to do. But when the sun set, and I was alone in my room, I realized just how depressed I really was.

I followed my schedule. I hurried around, trying not to be late, showing up to places, yet my mind was no where. I drank coffee, but it did not improve my mood like it sometimes seems to do. It only made me more restless. I ate food I liked, but it did not fill the void. I ate a Chinese pastry, and I got a stomachache. I passed out flyers, but the whole time I was self conscious and embarrassed. I jacked up my voice and I moved my muscles into something like a smile, but on the inside I just felt weird.

In my effort, in my planning, the goal was to succeed, but I only succeeded in stumbling and bumbling my way through hallways, social situations. Worrying, needlessly worrying about nothing, driving myself crazy, then sensing that people could tell I was worried, which made me even more worried. Then I tried to calculate the extent to which they actually cared. It sounds so stupid when I type it out. So I was dwelling on utter nonsense, seeking approval from the world.

Doubting, mistrusting, self-depricating, dying. That is what the world has taught me to do.

What did I do wrong? I don’t understand it. I tell myself to let Christ live in me, but I don’t feel it happening. I feel like I’m still driving the car, and He’s just screaming at me to make a U-turn before I wind up in Hell. Sorry for the really bad metaphor.

Life is so funny. You can tell yourself to do things for so long, and never end up doing them. And by that I mean, I have such a hard time opening up my heart for God. 

I’m sorry this post was so negative. I was going for Ecclesiastical. My point was that nothing matters without God, and we are bound to fail one way or another without Him.

 

Marching to the Beat of My Own Drum

Sometimes I wonder why I care what people think. And then I get dirty looks… and I remember again.

I don’t want to offend people. It’s not necessarily a good thing to offend people. Do you want to be insulted? By the same token, it’s not necessarily a good thing to rebel against society, although it very often is.

But at a certain point, we’ve just got to stop caring. When we’re doing God’s will and wearing pants, why does any of the rest matter?

Here’s a little anecdote that somehow reinforced that point for me. Reader discretion advised.

So I was walking around campus today, and I saw a girl passing out little flyers. Which is usual. But then I heard her start asking people, “Do you know about the vagina monologues? Do you want to know about the vagina monologues?”

You could just tell she was embarrassed. Who wouldn’t be? I’ll bet you a 60-year old feminist who went to Woodstock would be embarrassed to ask strangers if they want to know about the vagina monologues. I feel extremely weird just typing it. 

The point to that weird story is this. I’ve been thinking about starting my own student organization for people who like to get up early and do crazy things for the glory of God. I thought of a group name, possible fundraisers, activities, etc. But I am afraid to take the first steps. I don’t have anyone to start the group with, and I’m afraid to recruit. I’m not a people person. How am I supposed to be a leader? Isn’t everyone just going to make fun of me behind my back? It reminds me of the story of Moses and Aaron. Moses was afraid of public speaking, so he was reluctant. But, apparently, God thought that Moses could do it, otherwise He wouldn’t have asked in the first place. I don’t really mean to compare myself to Moses. I don’t know if this is what God wants me to do. This could fail miserably. And yet, I feel that I’ve got to try it.

When I heard that poor soul asking people about the… well, you know, I thought, ‘If she has the guts to put herself out there like that, why can’t I do the same for God?’ Why can’t I exhibit courage, passion, and determination in pursuit of a worthwhile goal? There’s no reason.

Come on. Let’s be “strong and courageous.” Let’s not care what anyone thinks. Let’s not apologize for our faith. Let’s go out there and show the world the love of God. 

 

 

Journeying with Job Part 3 of 3

Here is the moment we’ve all been waiting for! When God finally speaks, and our questions are answered! Mostly.

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind: “Gird up your loins I will question you, and you declare to me. Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be justified?”

Job 40:6-7 NRSV

Clearly, God is not happy that Job has constantly been doubting, complaining, and “justifying” himself vehemently. Here He begins to show His sovereignty and holiness in a very longwinded speech that may just render you speechless. God really gets the last word.

If God is angry at Job, He is furious at Job’s three friends. He tells them to make a sacrifice for their sin, and asks Job to pray for them. What an ironic twist! Job, considered public enemy #1, is going to pray for his friends! What a blow to Eliphaz and his posse! I guess God is always finding new ways to humble us. Maybe if we look close enough we can find some humor in it.

So I guess that I probably over-emphasized the things that Job’s friends were actually right about in my last post.

It is important to note that God didn’t mention anything about Elihu. I wonder if that means that He agreed with Elihu. It’s interesting because it seems that Elihu talks about a lot of the same things as the other three. There is a distinction, but it’s subtle. It seems that Elihu is not quite as presumptuous, placing specific blame on Job. Rather, he seems to talk in more general terms about God’s justice and splendor.

Well, I hope that interpretation was right.

Moving on to the very end, where Job has been restored. When the suffering ends in Chapter 42, this is how Job is treated:

Then there came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and they ate bread with him in his house; they showed sympathy and comforted him for all the evil the Lord had brought upon him; and each of them gave him a piece of money and a gold ring.”
-Job 42:11

So there we see Job getting some good treatment, finally. Instead of condemning him, his friends are now comforting him, showing love to him.That’s how you treat someone who is going through a lot of pain. Sure, we should probably try to lead them away from sin when we can, but sympathy is probably the most important thing. Sympathy speaks for itself. When we show sympathy, it means we are actually thinking about someone other than ourselves.

Here are 3 very important things from the book of Job:
1 God is sovereign. Who are we to question HIm?
2 Comfort others in their affliction
3 Suffering is not always punishment

 

 

 

Journeying with Job Part 2

Talking to other believers… and other people in general, teaches you so much… I guess everyone already knew that, but as a die-hard introvert, I suppose that has not always been extremely self-evident/easy for me to accomplish. We can learn a lot from the people around us. They can bring us closer to God. They often tell us what we need to hear. But what about when they’re wrong?

Job’s friends were obviously wrong. It seems like an example of dramatic irony- we see the exchange between God and Satan in the beginning of the book, but they didn’t. Everyone, including Elihu, repeatedly accuses Job of having done wrong. They conclude that Job is simply being punished. But we know better.

The funny thing is that Job’s friends seem to have remarkable faith in the sovereignty of God. They may even have good intentions. It’s easy to criticize them, but don’t you think it’s possible that you would do the same? Make various misguided attempts at rescuing someone from sin? Well, that is assuming that they were trying to help him, which they may not have been.

“Can you find out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limit of the Almighty? It is higher than heaven- what can you do? Deeper than Sheol- what can you know?”

-Job 11:7-8

Poetic words from Zophar. Maybe he could have followed his own advice a little.

My point is that Job’s friends were wrong about God’s intentions, if not many other things. After all, they were people, just like us. They relied on past experience, culture, common sense, prejudice, and religious ideas. They were wrong. We can be wrong about some things, while in the same breath, be right about others. “Wise people” can be wrong too. It’s crazy.

Don’t believe everything you see. Don’t let your common sense, your instincts, your street smarts lead you through life. We’re all going to make mistakes along the way, and we will learn from them… but do we really need to be constantly led astray?