Reflections On Psalm 1:4-6

Not so the wicked!
    They are like chaff
    that the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
    nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

In Psalm 1:4-6 the psalmist David switches back to speaking about what it will be like for the wicked who do not follow God. His words ae not very PC according to our current cultural standards. Nor would they be seen as loving or all inclusive. However, I am going to argue that the words of David are more loving than many of us are willing to see or admit. In our current Christian climate, we desire for everything to be relevant and cool, a lot of what we know as the gospel or good news of God hardly offends anyone anymore. It seems like some pastors would rather be cool and be liked rather than preaching a sobering message. Now, myself included, I have spent a lot of time writing about the mad love of God, and how much God loves you and that it doesn’t matter how many times you sin, you can run to him for forgiveness. That is very real and true in my own life, and it’s something that I want to be real and true in the lives of others.

            However, even though God is slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. He is also just, which then means there will be a day, where people who have not placed their faith in God, will stand in account. But it will not be the same judgement that Christians go through, which is what I believe he is getting at in the first part of verse five. They will be like a chaff blown away by the wind, he says in verse four. Again, this can be seen by many as unloving, cruel and whatever other words you wanted to interject.

But if God is slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, and if it is his kindness that leads us to repentance. That must also mean that he gives us humans, countless chances to acknowledge him as savior and king. Countless. To me, simply waking up in the morning and seeing the beauty of nature is enough for me. Paul talks about this very concept in Romans 1, of course its much deeper of an issue than that, but that’s maybe for another time. All I’m trying to say, is that if a person at the very core of who they are, doesn’t want God (and God knows that) it only makes sense that  God would give them what is actually desired. Be assured though, God does not get off on doing this, it grieves him and it should grieve us Christians as well. It should cause us to want to share the gospel with a broken and lost world. In verse six, having the understanding that the lord watches over his sons and daughters, we should only live in that in response to the amazing and gracious gift that he has given. Which is the ability to be called beloved sons and daughters. Once again, this is not because we are amazing, but because he is. This should cause us to live sober, and embrace his amazing grace. Whilst remember who we once were without him. And also be willing to share him with others.      

The Current State of Alpha Males (My Thoughts)

Anyone that has been following my entries for the last few weeks, might notice that I talk about being “Alpha” and reclaiming a sense of manhood. And for me that not only is for myself, but for others like myself that have cerebral palsy or other disabilities. I believe it to be a vital component, that men with cerebral palsy know and understand who they are, that they can be confident and have a deep sense of grounded masculinity. Even if in spite of not being able to accomplish certain “manly tasks” due to certain physical limitations. To be frank, I believe that the church has failed in this way, because they unknowingly focus on the abled-bodied men while sub-consciously passing over those who are disabled.   

I don’t think that Churches do this purposely, but rather they just don’t think about the reality that life just might be different for some other men. Hell, most churches don’t even have distinct ministries for the special needs community. Though, this blog is not to rag on the short comings of the church, but rather to call to attention of the state of “Alpha Men”. To be honest, I’m not really pleased. Most of them seem truly into themselves and only want to put others down. Which isn’t what an alpha male actual does. Why? Because they are secure within themselves that they don’t have to do that. They may firmly disagree with ones take on an issue, but they don’t purposely set out to go put someone else down because it makes them feel better.

Most of the alpha males that I see on the internet, seem to be hell bent on making fun of people that believe in God or subscribe to a religious world view. Which really is no better the new-atheist crusade that emerged several years ago. Again, if claim to be alpha, why seek out to make fun of someone? Why not confidently disagree without being so self-righteous?

Another problem that I have with some alpha males, is the fact that some of them just want short term relationships with women, only to move on to the next. Not me, nope. The most alpha thing a man can do at times is to commit to the right woman. No matter how hard things got. Furthermore, most alpha males are so focused on the physical attraction of a woman, that they put that over the mental-emotional and spiritual aspects of a woman. In my life currently, yes I do want to be with someone I am attracted to. Yet what’s more important for me anyway, is seeing if the woman that I potential want to be with. Is in fact secure in her emotional-mental and spiritual components of her life. Because that will carry over far above anything physical, though I do believe that the physical is an important component as well.

I think there’s room for a new way of A.M. to emerge or at least reforming what an A.M. actually is.. That’ll come in part 2 though!

Stop Saying Your Broken

Growing up in my faith, it was very common to hear fellow believers, exclaim that they were a broken person, after all it makes sense, within the the framing of the Christian faith. Is the idea the sin a broken and corrupted everything within the human existence.

A pastor I once listened said that Christians are image bearers of God, and are like a mirror image of Christ. But sin has broken the mirror inside us that reflects christ. Hence why Christ had to come and die, to repair what was broken in us.

Again, it all makes sense. At least to me, and if you’re a follower of Christ. But I don’t believe that it was it was the healthiest of narratives to believe after becoming a Christian via the power of the holy spirit. I believe that most of us that have the name of Christ on our hearts, have forgotten that we have the holy spirit inside us. (1 Corinthians 12:13- Eph 1:13-14)

God put the spirit inside of us. Shouldn’t that do something to the psyche of a Christian? Absolutely!

God also gave us spiritual armor and a sword to fight back with, Ehp 6. Again, that should tell you something.

Once again, I think there is nothing good that comes from a fellow Christian that simply believes that they are weak and broken person, waiting for Christ to come and put them back together. Negative. Absolutely not! Outside of Gods grace and love, yes we are weak and broken people left to our own stubborn and tired ways.

But when the holy spirit invades your whole being, you have the mind of Christ, you have been made a new creation and have been enlisted in the army of God. Because we have the spirit, because we have been made a new creation and because we have been enlisted in the army of God.

Guess what, God calls us to go set other hostages free, he calls us to go on the attack against sin. That doesn’t seem like a broken person to me. Some many of us walk around with our heads down and shoulders slouched, thinking and believing that we may never have victory in our lives. In no way shape or form is that how the father wants us to live our lives. If anything living like that is like living out a lie from the pit of hell.

Your past has been forgiven. Any sit that you will ever commit. Past, present or future has been forgiven. That is every reason to hold your head up, to stand up straight with your shoulders back. It is every reason to achieve a sense of mastery over the self, in the grace of God.

So, my fellow believer. Stop saying your broken, rip that narrative up. Yes you may struggle and stumble at times, but that isn’t who you are. Remember what God has done for you, remember who he has made you to be. Hold your head up and stand up straight.

Talking About Faith and Mental Health-again.

I’ve written on the subject on faith and anxiety before, but after my morning conversation with my girlfriend. It spurred me to want to write some more on the topic, as this is not a topic that can have a once and for all response. I’ll say it again, I have never appreciated how many Christians have handled the areas of mental health within the faith community.

Just pray more.

Have more faith.

Yes and yes..

But it’s not always that clean cut.

While it is true that people that live with anxiety or depression, should interact in their faith more with prayer and trust in God (if one is a Christian). That does not mean that all of our days with, anxiety, fear and worry are all over. They may get better, as we learn how to cast all our cares upon Christ- because he cares for us (1 peter 5:7), and learning different coping skills. Again, it simply does not mean that we will no longer have anxiety come up again in our lives.

When it does though, we will know how to defend against it, so it does not crush us. The biggest mystery through out my own faith journey, is while God chooses to heal some and not others. I am sure that there are some in which God has chosen to heal of anxiety, and others he has chosen not to.

And while this can be seen as a deterrent to faith, I choose to believe that there is sufficient reason for such thorns to remain. Simply because a fellow Christian still walks with anxiety and worry, does not always equate to a lack of faith or trust. Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in the whirlwind of our own mental health. But because our Lord is good, he always brings us back to the truth of himself.

And when we say to someone, “oh just pray and trust God more” we’re unknowingly making it about our strength and not God. As though we have to pray to drive our anxiety away, as though we have to muster up the strength to trust more. When it is God who spurs us to pray and gives us the ability to come our senses and trust him in the first place.

Sometimes what we say as Christians, in the context of mental health and faith is frankly unbiblical and even dangerous. If I went to a biblical counselor, I would hope and pray that they gave me a bit more than simply to learn to pray and trust more. I would hope that they would offer a listening ear, some compassion and empathy.

Christ told us that life would be full of hard times, but that he has overcome the world. -John 16:33, my faith tells me that Christ has already overcome all the darkness in the world, and with that, I know that all anxiety will be cast into the darkest parts of the earth. If you are one living with anxiety, big or small.

Jesus is not repelled by the anxiety that faces you, his arms are open to you. He loves you madly, his death, burial and resurrection say so. It is because of this, that we can cast all our cares upon him, along with our deepest trust.

Christians-Gods Temple- Redeeming Health

When I was attending my first bible college, we were discussing the every quoted verse in 1 Corinthians 6:19. Which reads “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;” Interestingly enough, there are all kinds of interpretations to this verse, anything from drugs, tattoos, suicide, sex and even health. Most of us, in our chapel discussion agreed that in had to do with our health and honoring God with our lives.

I spoke up about how I thought, that I strongly believe that as Christians we ought to be doing our best to take care of our bodies. In all all aspects: mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically. Not always in that order.

I’ll never forget it, when a rather loud black woman piped up and said “I don’t need to take care of my health, I’m dying anyway and in Heaven I’m gonna get a new body.” My first thought in that moment and even now is, that can’t be right or true. Yes, I do affirm that on the other side of life, Christians will have glorified bodies that are free from sin and decay.

But to assume that we can just let ourselves go, and let illness and death simply take us over. Is frankly sinful and a smack in the face to God, because he blessed us with life. It is then our response to honor him back. In my years of Christ, I have seen so many people walk through the church doors. Including pastors.

It’s sad that we have readily accepted this reality. I don’t think it is enough as believers, to simply ready ourselves for death. No, we still have much purpose and mission in this life. And as such our bodies need to be ready for the tasks at hand. This could mean, preparing your body and mind, for a time of raising children up. Working a job that requires heaving lifting etc.

Even if you have a desk job, guess what? you still need to honor God with your body. This could be a simple, as saying no to fast food and choosing healthier options. It could very well mean preparing food the night before. The point is, Christians need to think more broadly about how we honor God with the temples we inhabit.

It’s both the inside and the out.

Its my personal belief that Jesus Christ himself, was a fairly in shape person. After all, he walked almost everywhere and worked with his body. Who are we to be any different. We truly are without excuse.

The Beauty and Invitation of Grace

Lots of people are addicted to many things, me, however. I am addicted to the grace of God. I can’t get enough of it, I need it almost every moment of every day. Grace is the one sustaining reality in my life that keeps everything else going. I talk about grace so much, because it has utterly changed my life.

Many churches have hot button topics that they love to preach about, and for me grace is that truth. I was am the prodigal sons, before I gave in to the affectionate calling of the Lord drawing my heart, I was the other younger son that was arrogant, and felt like God owed him everything (if there was a God) and now, being a redeemed Christ follower, I am the eldest son that runs away and comes back home.

Yet, the father still runs to be every single time. No, grace is not an invitation to live a careless life, grace is the gift and ability to walk closely with Christ each and everyday. And with joy. But the reality is that, we do wander off the path. Take for example, the timeless hymn “Come Thou Fount”

“Prone to wander Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love”

We sing this all the time, but I don’t believe that we understand what we are singing. God is not stupid, he isn’t. He knows that you and I are gonna screw up and screw up a lot. He knows we are gonna lose our tempers, say things we don’t mean, totally blow it and act counter to how we Christians should act.

But you know what? He’s not shocked. He knows. And dare I believe that he is shaking his head at us, rather he picks us up, brushes us off and reminds us who we are in him. And sets us on the narrow road. Any anger that we may believe that God has toward us, was poured out on the cross. If you are in Christ, you are a new creation. The old has been done away with and the new has come.

The sins you cannot forget, are the sins that God has forgotten.

I believe that because God is slow to anger, his hearts cry is for people to finally notice how much they need his grace. On one hand, proud people who already think they are amazing. Have no need for the beautiful gift of grace. While on the other hand, those that know they have blown it time and time again. The grace of God is the most precious of gifts.

It’s a gift, you can do nothing to deserve it, let alone un-deserve it. But you can embrace it with all its joy and beauty.

Mental Illness and Church Leadership- Responding to Dale Partridge

Recently, a pastor by the name of Jarrid Wilson committed suicide. Admittedly I knew of his name until I saw a post on social media that spoke of this tragic event. As a phycology major, a lover of the mind and as one of has a soft spot in his heart for people who suffer with the beast of depression. My heart ached. It ached even more, when I saw a blog from the Christian post that had as a headline:

People struggling With Mental Illness Shouldn’t Be In Church Leadership https://www.christianpost.com/news/people-struggling-with-mental-illness-shouldnt-be-in-church-leadership-jarrid-wilsons-friend-says.html?fbclid=IwAR3cW6bcPkMpaFWqxE1q6AypIFoYXPI2SUkROzOxx1_thJgcORpCuD0o_po

Now to be fair, I can see the authors intent, pastors are very often over worked, hardly ever get any time off and tend to be everyone’s go to when they have a problem. However, it is extremely troubling to me to say  that it is “reckless” and “unbiblical” for churches to put someone in a position of leadership, if they are having struggles with mental illness or doubt.

Okay, I can kind of see the doubt part. But to say that people who struggle with mental illness shouldn’t be in church leadership, is in its self a very stupid and ignorant thing to say. That would eliminate a huge majority of the Christian community serving the body of Christ.

            Moreover the passages used to support the authors position are 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, The author focuses on the concept of being “sober minded” as its states in 1 Timothy 3, along with self- controlled. There in a huge danger, I believe in applying these passages to people who suffer with mental illness. Because we first have to have a clear understanding of what “sober minded” actually is in this context. If we are talking about someone that is still on the recovery road due to recovery, okay I can deal with that. If we are talking about someone who isn’t very rooted in their faith, and is easily influenced by others, I can see that too.

Sober minded and dealing with a chemical imbalance is something utterly different, yes, depression can sometimes can get very dark, and we can lose our way. But to say that a person is not sober minded is a grave insult. I think that a person can depressed, and be sober minded in that they cling to Christ like a weighted blanket rests on the body. Those of us who suffer, might need a gentle reminder of who we are in Christ. But to suggest that it is automatically removes us from church leadership is dangerous and unrealistic. Think about the amount of people that have anxiety, or having a rough day and their thoughts are not the best. OOPS! I guess there goes their ability to serve Gods people!

            …. And for the record, have we ever thought about how Jesus himself might respond to this? Have we even considered all the problems his own disciples had? Let me tell you, they were many. I don’t ever recall Jesus saying “Hey Peter, you got too many problems, you can’t be my disciple anymore!” Nor, did he ever say to Thomas “Gee Thomas, I can’t accept you for your doubts, good bye!”

So what gives some Christians today, the right to act differently? Jesus didn’t give his disciples the boot right away, why should we? Now, I firmly believe that there is reason, as to why a fellow believer wouldn’t be inclined to a position of leadership within the church. And I don’t think that mental illness is one of them. We very well need  to institute better care for our pastors, but simply disqualifying then is utter nonsense. If you’re a Christian and struggle with mental illness in any form. It’s okay to talk about it, you are not weak or less then because your battle is different than the next person. Having this struggle does not in any way negate how the Father see’s you in his son Jesus.          

The Lies I Believe And The Power of Ephesians

Contrary to popular belief, or how social media my portray I don’t wake up with a smile on my face all the time. In fact, some mornings I wake up and it seems as though, there is a spiritual war going inside me. A war against regret, doubt, shame, hopelessness and so much more.

The lies I believe:

You’re not good enough

you don’t have what it takes

nobody actually cares

no women will ever want you

you’ll never be all that you dreamed of being

God hates you

Just give up.

There’s more lies in there I’m sure, but you get the point and maybe you can relate. Sometimes I’m not even sure how these thoughts enter my mind. I could just wake up that way! Wake up feeling like I’m in a fight for my life, my mind, my eternal destiny. I have to be reminded that I’m not hopeless, that the God of the university is for me and on my side. His eyes are ever upon me. The one thing that has caused me to hold on and fight back against all these thoughts, is the love letter of Ephesians. I could easily copy and paste the entire 6 chapters in this blog, but I think I will settle for Eph 1:3-14

eBlessed be fthe God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing gin the heavenly places, 4 heven as he ichose us in him jbefore the foundation of the world, that we should be kholy and blameless before him. In love 5 lhe predestined us2 for madoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, naccording to the purpose of his will, 6 oto the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in pthe Beloved. 7 qIn him we have rredemption sthrough his blood, tthe forgiveness of our trespasses, uaccording to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 vmaking known3 to us the mystery of his will, naccording to his purpose, which he wset forth in Christ 10 as a plan for xthe fullness of time, yto unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

11 In him we have obtained zan inheritance, ahaving been predestined baccording to the purpose of him who works all things according to cthe counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be dto the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard ethe word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, fwere sealed with the gpromised Holy Spirit, 14 who is hthe guarantee4 of our iinheritance until jwe acquire kpossession of it,5 lto the praise of his glory.

I can think of no other writing in the world, that makes my mind and soul come alive in this way. I can think of no other spiritual or religious text that makes me want to put on my armor, grab my brave heart sword (metaphorically speaking) and start slaying these lies in my head. Because Christ has overcame it all for me. He has done the same for you, so that you no longer have to be chained to these crippling thoughts any longer.

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Looking at Jesus

The more I read trough the bible, the more convinced that Jesus is who he says he is. As CS Lewis Brilliantly wrote:

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

For me, it is extremely difficult to read about his life, how he fearlessly loved people, how he performed miracles and he was strong like a lion. Growing up in a buddhist family, I was never drawn to the teaching of Buddha, they way I was to Christ.

Jesus takes failures and outcasts and re-writes their history with grace. He doesn’t allow them to stay as they are, but ignites their hearts to live for something greater. I know that around this time of year a lot of people like to present what they believe Jesus looked like, I mean, I tend to believe that he was more of the short haired person that resembled something like this:

jesus-christ

Though, I like to believe he had a much thicker beard and was a man that wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. The point I want to make with this, is that when we are faced with shame, guilt, despair, loneliness, rejection, regret and so many more avenues of human life. That when we face these elements of life, we must teach ourselves to look at the face of Jesus. Knowing that when we are in Christ, we are looking into the eyes of a God-man that doesn’t see us as we see ourselves. In fact, he see’s us a white as snow.

May we patiently teach ourselves to look into the saviors eyes, and there we will find our fullest worth and who we truly are.

 

Word Vomiting on Anxiety and The Christian Life.

Breath… Breath… I tell myself as the sense of panic sets in.

My chest tightens, along with the shortness of breath.

This doesn’t make any sense, shouldn’t I have the most peace and Joy in all the world?

Instead, I feel like everything is going into a spontaneous flat spin. And you call yourself a Christian!?  

This tends to be the inner conversation that I have with myself most days, when anxiety seems to be getting the better of me. Anxiety and depression are things that any and all people may experience in a life time. But it can be a little tricky (a lot tricky actually) if you are a professing Christian.

I’m willing to bet that there are many bible believing Christians that live with either or both anxiety or depression. But their timid about speaking up about it. I know that when I visit a new church, I tend to put my smile on and be prepared to tell everyone that greets me how great I’m doing.

Why?

Because talking about anxiety or depression in some christian communities is like a drill sergeant who goes into a room full of marines who are sleeping and decide to let loose a flash bang. It can be painfully deafening and stunning to ones vision, but that’s what it’s like when a fellow believer talks about mental illness in the church. It hurts peoples ears and blinds the perception of life. Or the Christian life rather.

I personally have reached a point in my life, where I am tired of stuffing how I’m doing just to better sooth others. Yet I am still tremble at the thought of hearing another cliche response to pain.

Are you praying enough?

In the word? (The Bible)

Are you memorizing scripture?

(even better) are you in fellowship with other believers?

Or… Or.. “oh, I’m sorry to hear that, I’ll pray for you”… As the pat you on the shoulder, as if to say “there there little one, its going to be alright”

Verses will then be quoted about how were not meant to worry, and how God knows every hair on our heads. I very much understand that. And I actually believe that deep down, though the anxiety in my heart wants me to believe other wise.

Believers that struggle with anxiety are not people that simply need fixing, we don’t need quick fixes for things that we might have until the day were led home by Aslan (Chronicles of Narnia reference to Jesus). For some, having mental illness could be the Lords way of using something seen as evil, for our good.

God knows that if I didn’t have CP, I probably rely or need him as much. I few my own anxiety and depression in the same. Not in the sense that I enjoy living with anxiety or depression, but that I know that God uses these things as a way of making me a more loving and compassionate person.

The classic passage in scripture where the apostle Paul, pleas that God would remove the thorn from his side, only to have the king of the cosmos say “my grace is sufficient for you”. The key word here is grace, for a Christian, grace is meant to be our driving force. Not our mustering of effort, Not our lists of accomplishments or failures.

Something inside believes, that this is how Christians are meant to live in community and relationship to one another. Yes, there is always room to encourage and push each other to grow. But more then anything grace is meant to abound all the more.

For so long pastors, and the church as a whole has seemed to only want to “fix” those who are learning to live and cope with various shades of mental illness. And that should never be the answer, nor the motivation for the church.First and foremost, I believe that the Church should learn to sit quietly with those who are in the midst of the storm.

This is best scene through out the story of Job, job in the opening chapters loses everything he ever held dear to him. He finds himself in a place of distress in every area of his life. His friends would soon arrive on the scene of his life. There they sat quietly as their friend mourned the loss of his children and vitality, but they seemed to be silent with him for a moment.

Then they started accusing him of doing something to royally piss God off. And as a result, God was then punishing job for something that he had done. The sad truth is that we Christians do the same thing today. Rather then sitting with someone in their pain, we tend to spew at the mouth with cliche statements and things that really say nothing in the end.

Could this be because were scared of not having the answer for something or someone in life? I think so, some of the most meaningful moments in my life have been when a friend has sat beside me and just let me cry. Not giving me a sermon, although we sometimes need that too. But they let me cry and scream until there wasn’t anything left to empty of myself.

We all could be better at this couldn’t we? As I have more then likely said before. If you have anxiety or any other form of mental illness. your not a freak, your not something that needs simple repair or fixing. you are not your diagnoses. your loved, created in the image of the king and thus have more worth and value then you could ever know.  Your pain runs deeper that mere pat answers. Healing and recovery are possible with time and diligence. You don’t have to go through life alone, nor were you ever meant to.

You were created to loved and be loved. Seek help, don’t be afraid to need it. Ignore what others think, your life matters to much to lay quietly in the darkness.

 

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