Wednesday, May 23, 2012

"All right, then, I'll go to hell."

today i thought i'd share a post by one of my favorite thinkers, Rachel Held Evans. i hope it challenges you and i hope it moves you as much as it did me. hats off rachel.

If I had to pick a favorite American writer, it would be Mark Twain, and if I had to pick a favorite scene from an American novel, it would be the one where his unlikely hero, Huckleberry Finn, accepts his fate in hell.

It’s the moral climax of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The duke and dauphin have betrayed Jim and sold him to the Phelpses “for forty dirty dollars,” and the Phelpses have locked Jim in their shed, where he awaits his return to his rightful owner for a $200 reward. Huck goes back to the raft to figure out what to do next, and there he gets to thinking about the lessons he learned in Sunday school about what happens to people like him who assist runaway slaves.

People that acts as I’d been acting about [Jim],” he’d been told, “goes to everlasting fire.”
(After all, the Bible is clear: “Slaves obey your earthly masters with respect and fear”
- Ephesians: 6:5.)

Huck feels genuine conviction regarding his sin and, fearful of his certain fate in hell unless he changes course, he decides to write a letter to Jim’s owner, Miss Watson, to tell her where Jim can be found: 

I felt good and all washed clean of sin for the first time I had ever felt so in my life, and I knowed I could pray now. But I didn't do it straight off, but laid the paper down and set there thinking- thinking how good it was all this happened so, and how near I come to being lost and going to hell. And went on thinking. And got to thinking over our trip down the river; and I see Jim before me, all the time; in the day, and in the night-time, sometimes moonlight, sometimes storms, and we a floating along, talking, and singing, and laughing. But somehow I couldn't seem to strike no places to harden me against him, but only the other kind. I'd see him standing my watch on top of his'n, stead of calling me, so I could go on sleeping; and see him how glad he was when I come back out of the fog; and when I come to him agin in the swamp, up there where the feud was; and such-like times; and would always call me honey, and pet me, and do everything he could think of for me, and how good he always was; and at last I struck the time I saved him by telling the men we had smallpox aboard, and he was so grateful, and said I was the best friend old Jim ever had in the world, and the only one he's got now; and then I happened to look around, and see that paper.
It was a close place. I took it up, and held it in my hand. I was a trembling, because I'd got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself:"All right, then, I'll go to hell"- and tore it up.
It was awful thoughts, and awful words, but they was said. And I let them stay said; and never thought no more about reforming. I shoved the whole thing out of my head; and said I would take up wickedness again, which was in my line, being brung up to it, and the other warn't. And for a starter, I would go to work and steal Jim out of slavery again; and if I could think up anything worse, I would do that, too; because as long as I was in, and in for good, I might as well go the whole hog.”

It is a moment of true moral courage, complicated though it is by troubling ingrained cultural assumptions. (Later, Huck can only make sense of Jim’s kindness to him and Tom Sawyer by concluding he must be “white on the inside,” a comment that reveals Twain’s gift for creating characters that both critique yet fully inhabit their cultural contexts.)

I often think about Huck’s resolution when I am told by religious leaders that “the Bible is clear” on this or that, and that I’ve got to stop listening to those gut feelings that tell me maybe we’ve gotten a few things wrong, that maybe there’s more to the story than we’re ready to see.

“Your feelings don’t matter,” they say.

“Your feelings cannot be trusted,” they say.

“Once you start listening to your feelings, over and beyond the plain meaning of Scripture, it’s a slippery slope to hell,” they say.

A part of me agrees. I want to be faithful to the inspired words of the Bible, not bend them to fit my own desires and whims. Being a person of faith means trusting God’s revelation, even when the path it reveals is not clear or comfortable.

But another part of me worries that a religious culture that asks its followers to silence their conscience is just the kind of religious culture that produces $200 rewards for runaway slaves. The Bible has been “clear” before, after all—in support of a flat and stationary earth, in support of wiping out infidels, in support of manifest destiny, in support of Indian removal, in support of anti-Semitism, in support of slavery, in support of “separate but equal,” in support of constitutional amendments banning interracial marriage.

In hindsight, it all seems so foolish, such an obvious abuse of Scripture.

...But at the time?

A few months ago, I was invited to serve communion at a church in San Diego that included quite a few LGBT Christians in its membership. A lot of things happened in that service that would make some of the leaders in my evangelical religious community very angry: a woman serving the bread and the wine, a lesbian couple partaking of the elements with their baby daughter in tow, a gay man embracing me in a big bear hug and telling me that it was the first time in twenty years he felt worthy to come to the Table.

In that moment—the one with the big bear hug—I knew what my Sunday school teachers would say. They would say that this man was most certainly not worthy to come to the Table, that I was most certainly not worthy to serve, and that daring to participate in this endeavor would surely take me one step closer to “everlasting fire.” 

“The body of Christ, broken for you,” I said anyway.

“The blood of Christ, shed for you,” I said anyway.

“The body of Christ, broken for you,” he said anyway.

“The blood of Christ, shed for you, he said anyway.

As we embraced, I knew in a way that I cannot put into words that sharing communion with this man was the right thing to do, that it was an act of bravery and grace for both of us—together unworthy, together worthy, brother and sister, in the mystery of the Eucharist.

So when the thought of my Sunday school teachers’ disapproval crossed my mind, the only words to surface to my lips were, “All right, then, I’ll go to hell.”

Monday, May 21, 2012

God and Gays #2: Sharing the Gospel

So I got a lot of flack for my post entitled "God and Gays". I got a lot of encouragement and support, but I also got a lot of flack...which should be expected if you write about things and put things on the internet.

Most of the tomatoes that were flung my way were by conservative readers who were upset over my take on what it means to "properly" spread the Gospel. And I want to first and foremost say that I appreciate your positions and respect your viewpoints on what it looks like to present the love and compassion of the Lord. There is indeed no formula for this and to be honest, there are many of us who are going to have differing opinions.

Just with any book one reads, the mental pictures developed and the lessons learned will vary from one person to the next. The slight differences in raconter of the four Gospels alone show us how our viewpoints on the same story can look slightly different sometimes. Are the underlying lessons and standards Jesus set for us open to being altered and colored by our own opinions? No. No they most certainly are not. I am not here to adjust the Good News to my liking. In fact, I promise you that I will always address difficult issues from a compassionate, Bible-based, Christ-centered perspective.

So back to the subject on what it looks like to spread the Gospel.

In order to answer that question, it is important to answer a few others first. My answers will not be lengthy, they will be to the point and hopefully clear.

What is the Gospel and why is it important?

The Gospel is the account of Jesus' life, and the central Christian message is a proclamation of redemption through the offering of Jesus Christ for one's sins.

I am keeping this answer short not because I want to spare you from reading an 8-page blog post, but because I hope that it is at this point you will stop reading here, pick up a Bible, and read one of the Gospels yourself. Christian or not, it's important to have a grasp on all religions in order to love others well. Beliefs are important to people, and that matters. This goes for you too Christian friend of mine. Don't be ignorant of other faiths. There is beauty in all and even though you don't embrace something in another faith, doesn't mean it's irrelevant and isn't important to someone. It's extremely difficult to love others well if you don't understand what they value.

No matter what religion you follow, we can all agree that there is a lot of corruption in the world. We have to teach babies to be good, not bad, and we go through our days rarely feeling hook line and sinker satisfied. Yes, we have moments when we're on cloud 9 and yes we have days when life just makes sense and feels good. But please don't be arrogant enough to think that life is consistently happy, your bank account is always so full it's embarrasing to talk about, and your significant other meets every beating desire of your heart. If you disagree with me here and your life is perfect, then may I borrow some money and have the keys to your Bugatti.

Christianity shouldn't be something you're convinced or scared into. Christianity is born with God's perfect will revealing Himself to us and us responding to that Grace. The wisdom and tenderness of the Lord's work becomes more apparent to me with every scripture I read and every moment I give. It is liberating and humbling, and unfortunately, I feel that a lot of us miss the mark due to an austere formula of what it looks like to share it.

A dear friend of mine from college, Gabriel Mudd, wrote what I feel is a theologically sound and compassionate view on what it looks like to share the Gospel.

"At this day in age in the US, you would be hard pressed to find someone who has not heard the gospel message, doesn't have a minute familiarity with the bible, or at least hasn't heard the arguments for, about, or against sin, and specifically homosexuality. There tends to be a lot of bitterness (legitimately) because of how someone has been treated, spurned, thrown out of a church, rejected, unloved, hated and abused for being honest, trying to seek help, or feeling different.
If someone confesses to be a charismatic Christian, generally speaking, people in the US know what that means, and often the association is having a hard-line stance on certain issues, complete with biblical support. And there is nothing wrong with standing for what you believe and knowing why you believe it. But often what gets lost in the balance is love for others. Some people are so zealous that they forget the human aspect of our basic intrinsic needs, to be loved fully and completely. They overlook the person’s heart in the balance and some are unfortunately trying to exault their own holiness over someone else for whatever reason. Instead of handling a situation with compassion, they blatantly say the hard line answer, not knowing the person’s history and not handling it with tact or understanding the story behind the situation. I’m not saying the situation is right, but from my own experiences, struggle and treatment, I know that things can be handled better so that others aren’t burned by Christians.
Jesus says that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself. That is how you share the gospel. By consistency. By compassion. By having a stance but not judging others, (which is exactly what “sinners” have come to expect from “Christians,” almost so that they are pulling for the judgment to justify their uneasiness). We are to share the love of Christ, let God be the judge of all morality, and gain a better understanding of someone else’s heart and struggles."

I am a Christian. And my responsibility is to humbly and boldly follow the Lord and lay down my arms. It is to live like Jesus did. It is to stop waging war. It is to wash your feet.
So here is another apology on behalf of the Christians before me and around me who have not only epically failed at this, but who have put a chip on your shoulder or a dager in your heart.

Friday, May 11, 2012

God and Gays.

okay. i have been patient. i have waited a very, ...very long time. perhaps i've waited because i've been afraid of backlash, or judgement (ironic), or malintent by others. who knows. but i need to address something. and i need to speak boldly about it.

i want to address the controversial and intense subject of God and homosexuality. this post is not about promoting one personal stance over another. it's about something that i feel is more important.

i've read the Bible. i've studied the Bible. i've studied books about the Bible. it has been a personal interest of mine to learn from its wisdom and write it on the tablet of my heart. so...what i could do... is sit here and quote the scriptures about homosexuality in the Bible til the cows come home. or i could quote other scriptures that are, to be blunt, more important and primary in the Bible (beat me down as you may oh conservative sheltered Christians).
but i won't, because to be honest, i don't care. this long awaited post is not about bible legalism... this says that, and that says this.

it's about Love. and it's about knowing Jesus Christ.

"Love your neighbor as yourself and love the Lord your God with all of your heart, all of your mind and all of your soul." (Luke 10:27). that's primary to Jesus, and it is primary to me. it is the most precious and powerful wisdom He gratefully left us. and that's what we're supposed to live out. it is highly layered and no one will ever be able to master it. it is a brilliant law.

SO...let's say you're one of the boatloads of gay friends of mine and you're asking me the question i've been asked by almost every single one of them:
"So're a Christian, right? OK, think i'm going to Hell then... that i'm living in sin..." (and here's where my gay friend usually laughs and smiles with a wink to show me he/she is just kidding, oblivious to the fact that i notice that ever so fleeting moment of seriousness in his/her eyes. the moment where i feel that giant unGodly chasm that absolutely breaks my heart).

well dear and beloved friend, let me answer this question for you. 

first off, to give you an almost caddy and short answer, i have no idea why you're asking me this question. i am not God. so this question has nothing to do with me. or perhaps you're asking me for either of two reasons: 1) you truly do wonder about some things in your life and don't know what you want to grab hold of, or 2) you're just trying to catch me in a corner and beat me down like all the other Christians in your life who have wrongfully treated you like a leprous piece of shit. 

secondly, my entire existence in this world is to Love you and to Love you unconditionally. unconditionally means no strings attached, tenacious and consistent as hell, and full of unmerited grace.... the same love that i expect from you.

thirdly, we have the subject of judgment. as i said before, i know the scriptures. "Do not judge, or you too will be judged." - Matt. 7:1 or the often-quoted Luke 6:37 "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven."  and on and on and on and on... but even more considerable than this beautiful council is the way in which Jesus lived his life. He broke bread with whomever. He dressed in rags and lived impoverished even though He was a King. He was a complete radical in how He had no observance of much of any of the governing laws or officials who cared more about legalism than they did about good moral standing. He would sit down with you on the dirt floor, probably stewing in your own shit and wrap his arms around you not because He didn't care, but because He DID. 

THIS is Christianity. to be a "Christian" means to be one who "follows Christ". it brings such desperate sorrow and illness to my heart to see people who call themselves "followers of Christ" go round ignorantly and abusively making ANYONE, no matter if you're Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Jew, of a different Christian denomination, or don't follow the "Don't cuss, drink, smoke or chew, and don't date girls that do" mentality, feel like they aren't fully and without hesitation LOVED COMPLETELY. 

so this is my of my apologies and many more to come, for all the mess. for all the ignorance. for all the dark days when you have felt ostracized because of misplaced passions. because of missing the mark.

know you are loved. you are cherished. and you are living a bigger story.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Fairytale or real?

thought i'd share this story.
yeah, the constant violin music in the background is a little cheesey. yeah, i wouldn't ever put a "thankful wall" in my house (that's just not how my personality works). but man...oh man...the underlying, tremendously strong foundation of true love in this little 8 minute slice of life, is absolutely fetching. and it reminds me of what's worth waiting for.

it can be indeed frustrating living with doubts and an absurd timeline in my head. there are days when i think i'll be alone forever and there are days when i don't care one tick if i'm alone forever. it's quite comical really. and then there are nights like this when i sit down alone and am completely satisfied.

there is something to be said about the love of Christ that draws us near and dear. there is something to be said about a Lord who won't leave us or quit on us. and there is something to be said about the fact that this is all a wonderful gift given to us freely and willingly.

if i may be direct, after watching the video, you will be left with two avenues of thought. you are left to believe that this young couple is completely ignorant and unfortunately naive, or you are left to consider the fact that the God they claim to know is real, and that this God might be, as he aptly put, Awesome.

my opinion? Awesome. for the win.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Where are your affections?

I've become more and more aware of the battlefield in my mind. I have to constantly check myself and see where my affections lie. For the most part unfortunately, they're where they shouldn't be. I find myself focusing consistently on the wrong things. On things that damage my self-esteem, on things that fail to promote good tidings in my heart, and on things that are really just ...pointless.
All too often we worry like this. Some more than others, but I indeed find it true that our innate human nature is not to trust, but to disbelieve.
My goal and challenge to all my friends is this; discover where your affections lie and make sure they're where they should be. Ask yourself "What do I want my life to be? What am I scared of? What do I consistently worry about and how can I change my thinking? What do I believe in and how can I manifest more of it in my life and less of what i don't believe in? How can I keep my mind on the bigger picture and what is that bigger picture for me?" I think most of us believe in love. I think most of us believe in happiness and good morality. And yet I also think that most of us forget that we can not only have all of these things, but have them abundantly.
So there's my challenge to myself and to you. Make a list if you want. Do this challenge with a friend or just do it daily in your heart and mind.
And hopefully your life will become a little brighter.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Seminary if for deeper humility.

as some of my closest friends know, i've been considering going back to school to get my masters in counseling or my seminary degree. not sure which one i'll do, or if i'll even do either...but I read these thoughts today by a guy named ray ortlund that i thought i'd share. 
i am thankful for his insight.
If there’s any experience that can pull up to the surface the pride hiding down in our hearts, it’s seminary.  The very privilege of it can go to our heads.  Think about it.  What percentage of Christians over the past 2000 years have studied the Bible at the level of the original languages?  I have no idea.  But my hunch is, one percent is too high.  Studying Greek and Hebrew and biblical exegesis – with all the other majestic disciplines of a seminary education – should humble us into the dust.  What a privilege!  But if our hearts are not humbled, we will graduate from seminary in worse condition than when we began.
When I began seminary, my dad said to me, “Go through seminary on your knees.”  I did.  But I still discovered stirrings of my pride I hadn’t seen before.
I was studying under world-class scholars – Bruce Waltke in Old Testament, and others.  I worshiped the ground these godly men walked on.  Without realizing it, a new feeling began slipping into my heart.  It was this: “Hmmm.  If I become as smart as these men, whom I so admire, people will admire me the same way.  Then I will matter.  Then I will feel good about myself.”  Not that it was a conscious thought.  It was a subtle inward shift from Christ to Self.  It was justification not by trusting in Him but by leveraging my knowledge into human approval.  I starting seeing the world as my audience, and I was on stage to be noticed.  But the thing is, it was all in my head.  Everyone was displaying something of their own, hoping I would notice them too.  Everyone on the face of the earth is playing this game of self-exaltation.  It’s all wrong.  And seminary doesn’t prevent it.  Seminary can arouse it, if our hearts drift from the all-sufficiency of Jesus.
The Bible bluntly says to every seminary student, “Who sees anything different in you?  What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Corinthians 4:7).  Seminary students should be the most grateful people on the face of the earth, because what they are receiving is the precious Word of God.  It is not their own, and it is not for self-display.  It belongs to God, and it is for Christ-display and for serving others.
I recommend that every seminary student read – and the sooner the better – Horatius Bonar’s classic Words to Winners of Souls, especially chapter four, “Ministerial Confession,” taking us back to 1651 and the repentance of the ministers of Scotland.  My dad gave me this little book the week before I left for seminary.  Reading it was eye-opening in an unforgettable way.
There is no shortcut to the personal significance every one of us rightly longs for.  Significance is not as simple as going to seminary.  It comes at the cost of deepening character.  And there is no way to go deep without humility before God.
This Scripture often comes to mind: “Receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21).  Walk into every seminary lecture with that counsel in your heart.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

lookin forward to seein it.

Post by Don Miller:

I Like Your Christ, I Don’t Like Your Christian, Thoughts on Church Haters

All week I’ve been reflecting on themes brought up in the movie Blue Like Jazz. Today is a tough one. I’ll get hammered for this I’m sure. Still, I hope you give these thoughts and the film a chance. I’d appreciate it.
Since Blue Like Jazz came out years ago, I’ve been accused by some of being critical of Christians. To be sure, I have. But much less and much more objectively and without malice than I’m accused of. And I criticize myself much more than anybody else, I hope.
I love the church as I knew it, and I love the church even more as I’ve discovered it in the last few years (that is global, not bound by denominational walls instituted by feuding scholars). That said, I do not think the church is an elite organization that is beyond criticism. In fact, any organization that is defensive against criticism is suspect.
Would you work for a company that didn’t allow for criticism? Would a father be a good dad if he disallowed criticism? Would you want to have surgery at a hospital that rejected all forms of criticism? Then why would you want to worship through an organization that is hostile to criticism?
In my profession, I am daily criticized. I’d imagine I’ve received hundreds of blog comments, letters and @replies wishing me the worst. I get it. Criticism is hard. And not only this, churches get criticized for stuff that happened hundreds of years ago. I’d venture to say most criticism is unfounded and ill-informed. It can also be spiteful and hateful. So, I don’t want to be lumped in with the haters.
However, if the church has wronged people, we all need to admit that and apologize for it. There’s no use hiding it or covering it up or pretending we are perfect. The Catholic church’s handling of the sex-abuse cases has been disturbing. But in a way, I get it. If they admit fault, they’re going to go down hard, both financially and in global participation and attendance. Unfortunately, though, the ramifications of telling the truth shouldn’t be considered. The only thing that should be considered is obedience to God. And He wants us to tell the truth.

Rather than criticize, which I hope I’ve done little of, I want to maintain an objective view of the church. Is it perfect? No. Is it a good organization? Yes, the exploits of the church go far and wide into the world and have brought food, water, hope and Jesus to billions. Have they also brought harm? Absolutely, because the church is made up of fallen people.
I occasionally get shame-based letters and emails criticizing me for criticizing “the bride of Christ” lumping me in with men who beat women. I dismiss these accusations as well-intended but naive. Paul criticized the church, as did John and Christ Himself. We want to deify the church, or, more honestly, market the church. We shouldn’t. We should confess our sins and be open and honest about our depravity, both individually and collectively. Those who walk in the light have more, not less of their sins exposed. The very idea that those who make up the church pretend to be perfect indicates they do not walk in the light.
In the movie Blue Like Jazz that releases this Friday, the protagonist turns against the church. In fact, he protests (rather secretly and cowardishly) a local church in a way that is profane. It’s one of the scenes that almost got us an “R” rating. This will no doubt earn the film some criticism from the camp that does not walk in the light. But let me offer a few caveats before things get heated:
1. When people turn against the church, they are having a strong emotional response to having been hurt. The most harmful thing we can do to somebody who has been hurt is to invalidate their pain. The most kind thing we can do is to apologize and reach out in kindness.
2. In the film there is only one shady Christian character. The rest of the Christians turn the other cheek, perform acts of Justice, forgive their oppressors and are down-right heroic. Those who think this is an anti-church movie aren’t paying attention and, unfortunately, aren’t being objective. I hope people can view these scenes objectively.
3. Ultimately, Don finds God, not religion. Religious people will want God represented through a church (and lets face it, through their kind of church) but God’s not such a control freak. People find God and God finds them with and without organized religion. He is in control, we aren’t. If this is unsettling to you, this will be a difficult film. If it’s interesting or inspiring (that you don’t have to obey rules or jump through hoops to interact with God) the film will be comforting.
Regardless, the film opens this Friday. It’s too late to change anything. Let’s hope it starts some great conversation.

Saturday, April 7, 2012


Great thoughts on lying by Don Miller. 

I’ve only had two friends (that I know about) who’ve looked me in the eye and told me lies. Both of them were trying to cover up mistakes. I certainly had grace for their mistakes, but I’ve wondered looking back if I didn’t have grace for their lies. Neither of these two friends are in contact anymore. We don’t talk. Being in a relationship with somebody who lies is tough. It’s not that you don’t love them or care about them, it’s just that you can’t connect. Without trust, there’s no relationship.
Henry Cloud and John Townsend say that people lie for one of two reasons. The first is out of shame or fear. Somebody may believe they won’t be accepted if they tell the truth about who they are, so they lie. (You can see how religious communities that use shame and fear to motivate might increase a person’s temptation to lie, then.) People who lie for this reason can get better and learn to tell the truth. Until they do, however, it’s impossible to connect with them, all the same. The second kind of liar is less fortunate. Some people lie simply because they are selfish. These liars are pathological. They will lie even when it would be easier to tell the truth. Cloud and Townsend warn that we need to stay away from these people. Personally, I think people like this are pretty rare, but I agree, we simply can’t depend on them emotionally or practically.
Still I wonder if people who lie understand what they’re doing. I think some people want grace and certainly they can get grace, but when we lie, we make the people we are lying to feel badly about the relationships and about themselves. We like people who make us feel respected, cared about and honored. Lying to somebody communicates the opposite.
Here are the things that lies did to my two relationships:
  1. • When my friends lied, I felt disrespected and unimportant. They didn’t seem to care about me or trust me enough to tell the truth. This made me feel bad about myself, as though I were not important or trustworthy enough to be told the truth.
  2. • When I found out the extent of one of the lies, I felt like a fool. Technically, my friend didn’t really lie. She just told me “part” of the truth. It was as though she were testing out whether she was safe to be vulnerable. (She told many other lies, but this was just one of them.) But it backfired. When I found out things were worse than she’d made them seem, I felt tricked and deceived. Again, without meaning to, she’d made me feel bad about myself because I felt like somebody who could be conned.
  3. • I thought less of my friends. I knew they were willing to “cheat” in relationships. When we lie, we are stealing social commodity without having earned it. People can lie their way into power, and in one instance with a friend, she lied her way into moral superiority. Still, none of the authority or moral superiority (such a thing exists, and while it’s misused, it’s not a bad thing not unlike intellectual superiority or athletic superiority. It just is. An appropriate use of those two examples of superiority might be to lead a team or teach a class.)
  4. • I felt sad and lonely. When we think we are getting to know somebody, we are giving them parts of our hearts. But when they lie, we know they’ve actually held back their hearts while we’ve been giving them ours. This made me feel lonely and dumb.
  5. • I felt like I couldn’t trust them. The only thing more important than love in a relationship is trust. Trust is the soil love grows in. If there’s not trust, there’s no relationship. When my friends lied, our trust died. As much as I wanted to forgive them, and feel like I did and have, interacting with them was no longer the same. I doubted much of what they said. Sadly, I think both of them began to tell more and more of the truth. But it didn’t matter. Once trust is broken, it’s extremely hard to rebuild.
  6. • If they didn’t confess (and in one relationship lied in their confession) I felt like they didn’t care enough about me to come clean and make things right. They were still thinking of themselves.
Here’s what didn’t happen. I didn’t think less of them, and while I was angry, I wasn’t angry because I thought they were a bad person. The person who lied probably assumed I felt such things, but I didn’t. What really happened was I felt terrible about myself and when somebody makes us feel bad about ourselves, we tend to get hurt and move away.
To be sure, somebody who lies has a lot of other stuff going on and it’s not so easy to come clean. For a liar to change, they need a lot of help. Lying is manipulation, so if a person is a manipulator and gets caught lying, they are most likely going to keep manipulating. They may tell more lies to cover their lies, or manipulate by playing the victim. They may try to find things other people have done that they see as worse and try to make people focus on that. What they will have a hard time doing is facing the truth (which would be the easiest way out of their dilemma. It’s just that they don’t know how to do it. (They’re survivors, scrappers and have learned to cheat to stay alive socially.)

If you’ve lied in a relationship, though, and are truly wanting to LEARN to live on the up and up, what can you do? Well, there’s plenty. Life isn’t over yet. Here’s some places to start:
• Confess. And don’t half confess (just another lie) but actually confess. This may take some time for you. You may have to sit down with a pen and paper and write it all down. Your mind will want to lie, but you have to tame your mind. It may take you some time to even understand what the truth really is. You’re going to feel ashamed and at risk, but you have to go there anyway. People are much more kind and forgiving than you think. And if they’re not, you should confess and find people who are more safe.
• Accept the consequences. You’re going to have to pay for your lies. People will not and should not trust you as much as they did before. However, getting caught in a lie and confessing a lie are two different things. The former will cost you a bit, but you can rebuild quickly. The latter will cost you everything. Another thing to consider is that the truth might have lost you a small battle, but you’d have won the war because in the long run people would have trusted you. From here on out, be willing to suffer the slight, daily consequences of telling the truth. You’d be surprised at how much less tension there is in your life when you walk openly and honestly.
• Don’t expect the relationship to be the same, but if the person doesn’t forgive you, just know you can move on. You’ve confessed and hopefully apologized and you aren’t beholden to them anymore. They need to wrestle with forgiving you and that’s now their burden. It’s an unfair burden, but we all have to face such things.
• Don’t lie anymore. It’s not important that everybody like you or approve of you. Allow people to get used to who you are. Telling the truth may mean you don’t get to be in control anymore or that people won’t like you as much. That’s fine. At least they are interacting with the real you. The deep connections you’ll make from telling the truth are worth it.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

a huge reason why i'm at all strong today is because of my friends.
if you don't have friends in your life that encourage, challenge, and push you to be a better person, then.......................(cricket, cricket)...
i'm just sayin.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

i didn't think this mattered.

i was sitting down with a friend last night and we were chatting back and forth about perspective. well, about God and perspective. and it lead to me recounting a moment in my life when my perspective radically changed. it was the moment i saw a bigger picture. and this bigger picture really matters.

i was 19, it was a Thursday night, and my best friend and college roommate, julie park, and i were sitting in her car discussing an issue that would ultimately change my view point on the Christian life. i didn't think it was important to share on here because it's actually very simple and i don't want to come off dumb, but it has helped shape my faith ever since and maybe it'll help yours.

i had come to Christ about 8 months before but was having trouble reconciling a lot of things. i was having difficulty letting go of my old lifestyle that had helped shape my identity. it had made me feel uncomfortable and i was exhausted. i hadn't embraced any sort of faith growing up, so my god, was me. and even though that god had obviously left me empty inside, at least it was familiar.

i had been crying. we had just left a church service and julie had seen me crying. and it hurt her heart. she was the closest friend i had, and had been along side me that year through a lot... answering my questions, feeding me food to sober me up when i'd come home to our little dorm room at 3am, wiping my tears when yet another one night stand (to my surprise) didn't fulfill me... she had seen me at my worst and she loved me entirely.

"i just don't get it!", i sobbed. "i'm sittin here trying to obey Him, trying to let go of my old life, and i can't f%@king do it!! this is TOO HARD julie! i don't understand how you do it! i WANT to change! i WANT to be happy and i KNOW God wants me to be happy but i just can't DO THIS! i'm so f%@king TIRED!.... (sob)"

julie: "liz. ......liz. hey, it's okay. let me tell you something. cause you've got something radically wrong."

me: "what..." (crying softly, looking out the window)

julie: "you don't stop doing something because God tells you to. you don't stop it because it's in the Bible that that's not okay and you shouldn't do it.  you stop doing things because you love God. and that's it."

me: "what?" (turning towards julie)

julie: "the only thing that God wants from us is to love Him, liz. THAT is our focus. THAT is what changes someone. THAT is how His yoke is easy and His burden is light. if you sit here and focus on your own strength and efforts to achieve something, you will grow weary, liz. you will be frustrated and you will miss it. for example, a wife doesn't refrain from cheating on her husband because cheating is wrong, she refrains from cheating because she loves him. THAT is how this all works."

cue light bulb

friends, we aren't called to exhaust ourselves. we aren't perfect and God knows that. but WE and our plans don't have to be. so if you're sitting there today, weary and frustrated because you just can't seem to get your life together, take a minute and check to see what perspective you've got goin on. you might need to see the bigger picture. and that bigger picture might change your life.

“Be still, and know that I am God.” -Psalm 46:10

“I have loved you with an everlasting love." - Jeremiah 31:3

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Friday, March 16, 2012

11 Extremely Disappointing Facts About Popular Music

1. Led Zeppelin, REM, and Depeche Mode have never had a number one single, Rihanna has 10

 2. The cast of “Glee” has had more songs chart than the Beatles

 3. Barbara Streissand has sold more records (140 million) than Pearl Jam, Johnny Cash, and Tom Petty combined

4. Celine Dion’s “Falling Into You” sold more copies than any Queen, Nirvana, or Bruce Springsteen record

 5. People actually bought Billy Ray Cyrus’ album “Some Gave All…” 20 million people. More than any Bob Marley album

 6. Ke$ha’s “Tik-Tok” sold more copies than ANY Beatles single

 7. Same with Shania Twain’s “Come On Over”

 8. Creed has sold more records in the US than Jimi Hendrix

 9. Flo Rida’s “Low” has sold 8 million copies – the same as The Beatles’ “Hey Jude”

 10. The Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling” is more popular than any Elvis or Simon & Garfunkel song

 11. Katy Perry holds the same record as Michael Jackson for most number one singes from an album

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

neon back in a big way

lipstick, clothes, hair, shoes, furniture, anything goes... thumbs up, oh ye gods of fashion.