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Friday, May 19, 2017

Public Worship


I will be transparent. I have not consistently attended church. In fact, it has been at least two months since my last church visit. This trend of tardiness began emerging after my last hospital visit. I experienced some trauma, which I discovered was connected to spiritual deception. Ever since that darkness, I have feared attending anything that is spiritually charged. I had the courage to attend some religious services, but often left before the meetings finished.
I appear to lose levelheadedness when I am in a community of faith. My thoughts run wild. My imagination escalates, sending me on a frantic grasping for an emotional high. I enter the meeting with good intentions. I want to answer God's call to commune with other believers. Unfortunately, I no longer have the capacity to hold myself together in these settings. 
Thankfully, my personal times with God are never better. In my personal quiet times, I do not experience the fear and confusion that attack me in public. I feel more peace by myself. I know God is a God of peace and not confusion. I seem to only experience His true nature when I am by myself.
I know many would encourage me to attend church at least once a month. I will admit, I miss being surrounded by worshipers with the same heart and mind. I want to return, but I simply can't. It takes so much courage to walk through the church doors. If you are reading this, I would covet your prayers. I need wisdom and direction in this season.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Self-righteous



I find myself falling into the self-righteous trap. It begins innocently enough. I am having a conversation with someone, trying to share my own struggle with injustices in our world. I attempt to stand for morality and holiness. The conversation escalates. Suddenly, I start trying to justify myself. I find it necessary to defend my convictions. This is done with the best of intentions, but it often leads to an ugly skirmish with my neighbor. After the conversation, I feel gross and defiled. I repent. I regret starting the conversation.

The defense of my character is a form of self-righteousness. I have no need to prove myself to anyone. In fact, I don't even have the power. Jesus is my defender. I can't fight my own battles. He is the only one who can unveil my holiness. My righteousness is found in Him alone. It has nothing to do with my fervor or my poorly chosen words. God is the one who calls me beautiful. He knows me completely. He knows my sick heart. He has heard my constant cry for justice and His return. He offers me a wedding dress, which the enemy can never steal or taint.

I try to avoid self-righteousness at all cost, but I fail at times. I must patiently wait for the Lord's vindication. I can no longer justify myself before men. Their praises are worthless. My acceptance is found in His embrace. I have this image of His restored kingdom. My life is hidden in Him. I know the glories that await me. This life is but a shadow.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Beyond Comprehension




Not all Christians believe in hell. Usually, these people cannot fathom the existence of a God who would condemn souls to everlasting torment. I believe there is a hell, although I believe in a less violent version of hell. I don’t ascribe to the current version of hell, which claims people will experience eternal burning and torment. I; however, do believe hell is eternal separation from God (which is far worse than eternal burning).

Often the Christians who don’t believe in hell, still choose to believe in heaven. To these rational minds, heavens is more believable. It is easier to believe in a benevolent God who promises us heaven, but it is harder to believe in a benevolent God who condemns us to hell. However, I would argue that this choice to favor belief in heaven over belief in hell is flawed. It should be more astonishing to believe in heaven.

Heaven is beyond our comprehension. If it is easy to believe in heaven, it is likely that we don’t understand the glories that await us. We think we understand that heaven is a place of reward. We can slightly comprehend the benevolence of God. However, I must remind everyone that heaven will be a place with NO pain, NO tears, and NO loss. We will experience eternal pleasure. There won’t be a moment of reprieve from the delight of God. I contest that it is easier to believe in hell than to believe in the reality of heaven. We should be more astonished that God will give us eternal pleasure.

Have you ever watched those viral videos when parents surprise their children with a trip to Disney World? Initially, the children are skeptical. The kids think their parents are tricking them. When they grasp that they are truly going to the land of fun, they scream and bawl with excitement. Heaven will require astounding belief. God will need to convince us of pleasures forever because this is beyond comprehension. Far more than we know. Death is defeated.

HAPPY PALM SUNDAY!!! FOREVER HE IS GLORIFIED.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Pained Artist

Processing our hardship can be therapeutic. Often we choose to ignore the stress and pain, hoping it will dissipate on its own. It won’t. After years of suffering from crippling anxiety, I have now learned that vulnerability is my friend. It is foolish to deal with pain outside of community. If your friends don’t know you are struggling, they can’t help. Stress and anxiety need to be combated and strategically overcome with communal vulnerability.

My Taylor community has recently been overwhelmed by physical illness and emotional exhaustion. It is evidence that we all commit our souls to the work. We are willing to sacrifice sleep, homework, and sanity to produce a beautiful work of art. We are all willing to go the extra mile, even at the expense of our health. It is so refreshing to work with people who are dedicated and motivated. Unfortunately, it often leads to fatigue and/or collapse. Artists love to expose themselves to the ugly in life, and we suffer from it. However, in the midst of the angst and exhaustion, there is such assurance that the end result will be a glorious production, a production that will reveal an unknown and needed truth. That is why I have bags under my eyes. That is why I can’t always form sentences or remember words. That is why most of us are addicted to coffee. The artist is an untamed, resolute individual who serves the audience in magical ways. I am weak with my fellow artist and I will thrive in the process.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Good Soil



There is much to process. God is introducing me to my new self, the purer version of His design. I feel more confident, more vibrant. God forced me into the good soil to produce much fruit. I can see a future and a hope. Spring is a month away, which is fitting. My emotions are blossoming as the earth blossoms. During this growing season, I am suffering from a strong desire for the presence of the Lord. I want the world to know His goodness. I want others to understand His love for me, even in the midst of hardships. I want the world to KNOW of His excellence, not just hear about it.
I feel the Lord's affection. Truly the Lord is singing over me. The fears and anxieties that once ruled no longer have a place. I have torn down the idols and silenced the enemy. I now understand that the Lord has graced me with a warrior spirit. He has given me tenacity and resilience. The hope is stronger than the doubt. The courage is stronger than the fear. The light is stronger than the dark.