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Posts Tagged ‘fear’

tract

Have you ever received one of these? If you have it was most likely done without ever knowing the name of the person giving it away. You might have seen it on top of the toilet paper roll in a public restroom, next to or in place of a tip at a restaurant, lying around on a floor somewhere, or mixed in with that delicious candy from Halloween. Most tracts use fear as a tactic, some of them are clever and none of them are appropriate. They are most likely passed around with good intentions because in the Christian faith we find hope for the hopeless, love for those who have never experienced it before, and sacrifice so strong that it is capable of turning your entire life around.

How many tracts inspired a non-believer? I couldn’t tell you. What I can tell you is the message that is really getting across with a tract. This message is that you aren’t as happy or good enough in your life right now as the person who has a wallet full of these. It is that people who believe in God are tactless and hypocritical. It is that Christianity is full of judgement and punishment. It is that the Christian doesn’t have the time to sit down with you and have a real conversation, nor would you want them to because with the looks of it all they will be thinking about how to better tell you about the “A-B-C’s” of Christianity or how you can “be saved” from hell.

If you have a stack of these somewhere that you are planning on giving out, I’m going to let you in on a secret. These are as effective as a used up piece of gum stuck to the sidewalk, except that the gum actually served a real purpose at one time. You aren’t doing any good by leaving these around for some stranger to find, all you are doing is making yourself feel good.

You are not provoking thought. You are perpetuating the common perception that Christians are a bunch of jerks who don’t really care about anybody but themselves.

True evangelism is genuine. It is an honest and very real relationship with somebody. It lacks judgement and humbly admits our own lacking. It takes time. It takes prayer. It takes Spirit provoked conversations. True evangelism will never really tell you the kind of difference you are making. It is serving and self-denying. It pours every ounce of you into someone else. True evangelism is no secret. Jesus did every one of these things when He was on this earth. The closest thing he did to leaving a tract behind was writing in the sand, and nobody really knows what it was that He wrote.

If you want to make a true difference in this world or get a true positive message across then buy someone a meal, watch their kids for nothing in return, use the gifts you have to give. If you don’t then you may as well go get a stick and start drawing in the dirt because that is much more productive.

tract

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I was raised in a fairly conservative Christian home. My parents made sure we got a good Christian education and church experience. Even though both institutions were unhealthy, they still laid a solid foundation of faith. Over the years, though, I’ve gradually moved more and more left. This doesn’t mean i’m not a Christian, it just means I’ve started thinking on my own and have determined that the majority of Christians use The Bible to fulfill their own agenda. They use verses to back up what they say The Bible says is true. I can’t see though how the Jesus I’ve gotten to know would act the way these Christians act or think the way they think. The last few months I have been church-less. This isn’t of my own doing, back in December I wrote a post about how I was losing my church. Since then I haven’t been able to find the kind of church I would like to see my family and I attending. Am I floating on clouds to believe there is a church out there who teaches the combination of everything I believe is true? Am I being unreasonable to think that I don’t want to attend a church who teaches some of these values that I have been raised with my entire life? This isn’t political, I’m not looking for a democratic church (I still do not consider myself either Republican or Democrat), just something a little less than traditional. I want my son to be in a church environment. I want him to learn about Jesus and be surrounded by other kids, I want him to go to Sunday School. I’m confident that with our direction as his parents we can talk through all that junk that the church teaches and help him figure it out for himself. I hesitate because I have learned through my most recent church that church is about community. I have issues with being in a relatively big church because I have a difficult time connecting with others and once I do connect with them I fear they will boldly speak so ignorantly and stubbornly as most Christians I know. That is a problem for me because if I don’t keep my mouth shut then I know something terrible is bound to happen, but I want them to get to know me for me. This is possibly more fearful than I should be and I am possibly caring a little too much of what my maybe future community will think of me, I don’t know. What I do know is that I can not let myself go to another church where I keep my head down until I find my usual seat then leave just early enough to miss the crowd being excused for the day. I miss going to church. I miss the people that I have grown to love and I fear I will never find a church that I love or agree with more than my last one. I’m not trying to come off as whiny, I am just still dealing with this loss and every new loss I have just reminds me of this one. I have no answer, yet. I will keep seeking and praying until my heart finds its home.

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I hardly ever freely talk about my opinions because A) I am very careful to know what I think fully before spewing it out to the world. B) Most people believe that when someone gives an opinion that it is an open ended invitation to talk about their opinions as well and unless I ask you, I don’t care what your opinion is. C) I really have no desire to debate or even to tell you my reasons for thinking what I think. So I keep my mouth shut. However, this is my personal blog and it is your choice to be reading this and you may feel free to close this page if you do not like what I am saying.

There is much talk right now about marriage equality. And to be honest, I’m quite sick of it.

Let me start out by proclaiming that I am a follower of Jesus. I believe in the three in one, I believe God sent his only son Jesus to die for us and raise up to defeat sin and to allow us to have everlasting life through Him. I believe Jesus is God and that He is the definition of love. That being said, I also believe that if you happen to love someone that is the same sex as you, you should be free to live your life as someone who loves someone the opposite sex, that life including marriage and children if you so desire. I’m tired of hearing people use the Bible as their reasoning to be against it.

My whole life Ive been heavily surrounded by people who insist on twisting the bible into what works for them, Ive been heavily surrounded by and had to fight off the certain “brainwashing” going on in the church. For the majority of my life I believed it was a sin to have sex before you were married or have sex with someone the same gender as yourself, simply because I was told it was a sin. As a teenager I was thrown into a “purity conference” and essentially forced to make a vow to “stay pure” until I was married. But at some point the people in the church need to search the Bible and seek God for themselves to decide what it is they believe to be true. I find it odd that Christians go through the old testament and pick and choose which old testament laws should still be practiced today.

Closed-mindedness like this is one reason Christians really piss me off, most of them are not even willing to hear an argument that goes against their beliefs. Fear is a bitch, people.

Like I said, I am just a little pissed off at all the ignorance being spewed out there and this is a good way for me to vent. If you are a Christian and you are reading this you are most likely angry and judging me, but that is OK with me! If you have ever really gotten to know someone who is a homosexual,no filters, no blinders, just really saw them the way God sees them, than you would probably be a little more open-minded.

I really love this quote from Justin on gaychristian.net,

But if you’re fortunate enough to know a Christ-centered gay couple, you’ll notice something remarkably different. These relationships are actually bearing good fruit. The fruit of the Spirit are in abundance in such relationships – love, joy, peace, patience, and all the rest. You can argue all you want about the meaning of this passage or that passage; the fact remains that I know monogamous, Christ-centered gay couples whose relationships are living proof of God’s blessing on them. Bad trees don’t bear good fruit.

and like he also says, “don’t be afraid to ask difficult questions.”

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Trusting someone is a hard thing to do. Trust requires that even when we see no possible way, we choose to believe. Trust requires faith. It seems that I’ll never fully understand trust or how to do it. When put in front of troubling circumstances, I fight doubt. Of course, this is human and without doubt trust would be meaningless. Even when I look back and I see all the miracles and blessings and impossible situations that God was faithful through, my doubt doesn’t fully wash away. Yet why would I believe that those situations were any different than now? Why would I think that God all of a sudden will forsake me? It is when I find myself in these times that I have no choice but to say to God, “I don’t know how to trust you, but I choose to do it. My trust isn’t perfect or complete, but today I am choosing to trust in you.” It seems to be no coincidence that it isn’t until the last minute that the picture starts to be revealed. It’s as if God waits until the last minute so that I have all the time I need to come to Him.

If I can take you back to just a couple of months ago…

Micah was feeling pressure to look for a house. I could have waited a little longer, however mostly from fear of repeating the same mistakes we made so many years ago. But he insisted that this is the right time. Our discussions went back and forth like this until one day something pulled me in the direction of the mall. And it wasn’t my need to shop. I believe there are no coincidences and we stopped in. We happened to run into some friends we knew from church (who lived pretty far in the other direction), friends that happened to be in real estate. This kicked off the search. We found a house we loved and put a bid on it, eventually winning the bid. We signed all the necessary documents and gave them our hard earned money. Our family and friends started celebrating with us as we took this pretty big step in our lives. But low and behold, our home inspection came back and yielded devastating news. The house was structurally and functionally in shambles. Our minds circled around what this meant, mostly financially of course. And for about a day we felt crushed. What is wrong with us that this would be happening again. Have we really strayed from Gods direction again? But the next day we both woke up with this strange peace. I remember saying to God that I know everything is going to be ok, and even with all this money lost that we are not in a devastating position. It sucks, yes, but we are not devastated by it. Good news came later that day, we were told we would get our money back which at first we were told would be impossible and we were told we could stay in our apartment which we already signed away. We lost essentially nothing in the process and gained a whirlwind of wisdom and experience. We had been given a miracle.

The search continued and it wasn’t long until we found another house. This one was brand new, completely upgraded, and not more money than the other house. We were over flowing with gratitude that once again God protected us. We did have much fear surrounding the information we had learned about in the process before, however. Our apartment wouldn’t let us break the lease until someone else rented it. We were allowed to move out, with a small fee, but as far as paying the rent every month we were still contractually obligated to do so until someone else took it over. We were not allowed to sub-lease and were pretty much stuck in the contract. This fear weighed heavily on us as there was no way that with me on bed rest and my pay reduced we could afford a mortgage and rent. Fast forward to this week.

Sunday: my prayer to God, “I don’t know how to trust you, but I choose to do it. My trust isn’t perfect or complete, but today I am choosing to trust in you.”

Monday: my conversation with my friend brought us to this topic. I told her how stressed I was about it, how time was almost up and instead of apartments getting rented, my complex keeps adding more to the list and the bigger ones were even cheaper than mine. I told her that I was just waiting until I felt the time was right to talk to the apartment manager and plea for any possible way out, and that I was trying so hard to remember Gods goodness and trust in him. As we were talking some people walked by that were looking at the apartments and my friend looked at me and said, “this is it ash, maybe these are the people that are going to rent your apt. These are the people!” Of course I looked at her like she was nuts.

Tuesday: despite being home in bed all day (thank you bed rest) I failed to hear the door knock. There was a UPS sticker left on my door which meant I had to go to the office to pick up the package. A surge of motivation swept through me and when Micah got home we left to go to the office, planning on getting on our hands and knees to beg them for something they could do. Up until this point I had literally been checking their website every day to see our apt. number crossed off the list, but to no avail. When we asked about talking to someone about our apartment we were told that there was no need to and that it indeed had been rented. Want to know when it was rented? Yesterday. Praise God! We about hugged that poor lady.

It was all up until the last minute, up until the moment I chose to trust God. Yet He never left my side. He simply waited for me to learn my lesson.

And it sure is a good feeling.

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I don’t want fear to hold me back from the exciting and enjoyable things in life, and I certainly don’t want fear to trap me in a place that might actually be harmful for me. So many of us do this, especially the latter. Whether it be a relationship, a job, or a living situation many of us allow ourselves to be trapped in a harmful little bubble because we are afraid of what’s outside the bubble. The bubbles we create for ourselves might keep some harmful things from getting to us (pleasant things as well) but it also keeps those harmful things inside with us. People talk about learning from our mistakes, I’ve said that very same thing, but i wonder if a choice really can be a mistake? Mistake might be the wrong word. There are choices that are better than others and choices that create a negative or positive ripple in the pool of life, but calling a choice a mistake is contradictory. I think we might keep ourselves in our bubbles for fear of making a mistake, so we get all cozy and complacent doing what we are used to doing. But that’s a cop out. We have been given the ability to make choices for a reason. We need to own up to our responsibility to make a choice. No more saying we won’t do something because it might be the wrong thing to do, or might not “be what God wants us to do”. Because there are many paths to take, opportunities are in front of us all the time. Some of them we ignore and some of them we take, but we don’t need to be trapped. Obviously with prayer, deliberation, and responsibility we can gain wisdom and make the better choice. But there is also something to not letting anything hold us back and not making excuses just because we might be scared for how it will affect our present or our future.

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I’ve been in denial my entire life about this but it’s becoming more and more clear that I have this fear of being successful. I always stay low key in my job, I bounce from hobby to hobby, once I start making real strides in something I abandon it, I never chose a direction in school, i stayed away from getting involved with school and church, and generally i tend to shy away from the amazing opportunities that come my way. Could this fear stem from a deeper root? Could this be a deeper fear of failing? Without fully admitting it to myself this year I have been focused on trying to accept opportunities as they come by me, but I find this difficult most times. In fact, if it wasn’t for others pushing me to go forward with something, I would never move. So how can I go about getting out of this rut. What causes this intense fear of being successful. Has anyone else discovered this fear in themselves? If you have I’d like to hear your thoughts and what you did, if anything, to change it.

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Yesterday was a sad day for me. I was reminded of something I didn’t have, The weather was gloomy, and I was very full of fear and insecurities.

I thank God for restoration. I thank God that He gives us a new day.

Today, let’s embrace each moment for what it is. Let us soak in God’s mercies. Let us not just be satisfied with our present, but let us be grateful for it.

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