Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Us Versus Them Mentality

I am really getting bored of all the pettiness of social media.  In fact if Facebook wasn't one of the only ways I could keep in touch with my extended family, I would definitely delete it.  I really can't believe that grown adults are getting  into bickering's over Were Right, They're Wrong.  I seen it on both sides of my liberal and conservative friends.  Is a post on Facebook really going to change a person's view? Probably not, people are going to side with people that have the same background, beliefs, experiences as themselves.

With that said, I'm conservative on a lot of issues.  I believe in less government control on economic issues and think our government is enabling people to be lazy.  I grew up poor with a teen mom, who refused to live off the government and worked her butt off with several jobs to support and raise my siblings and myself, all the while teaching us a good work ethnic.  The downside to this pridefulness I have as being a hard worker, it is hard for me to have Compassion or understanding for people who have been given the same opportunities as me but still struggle to support themselves.  That is something, I'm realizing and asking God to change my heart about. But as a conservative Christian I am getting tired of getting lumped into the category of bigot and ignorance by my liberal friends.  I am neither a bigot nor ignorant, although I have had poorer examples of my political party portraying these characteristics, I think it is wrong to just "assume" everyone with conservative views is that way and that, my friend actually lumps YOU into the category of Bigot.  A definition of a Bigot is: a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief or opinion.

But anyways when it comes to social issues as a Christian, I find it a necessity to be for equality, whether I agree with lifestyle choices of other people or not.  The more I study my belief in Jesus, the more I'm finding out Jesus loved and had compassion for EVERYONE, especially people who were on the social outskirts.  Prostitutes, lameness, demon possessed, robbers/tax collectors etc.  the society the religous people would have nothing to do with.  Jesus showed such compassion with the undeserved/outcast that he socialized more frequently with them then with the scribes/pharisees.  Well, you know as the story goes he was thrown into the forbidden mix with the outcast, by the majority of people, and therefore sentenced as a criminal and crucified.  I'm explained this before in previous blogs but it seems apparent that fellow Christians don't seem to lump themselves in with Pharisaical views  at all and even see them almost unreal or "cartoonish" characters that don't really exist today.  But they do and even I myself have fallen into that category a time or two and if I'm not careful still do sometimes.

With that being said Why are Christians still on the "Us Versus Them Mentality".  If you are a mature Christian, you should know and understand Fruits of the Spirits and in case you forgot, let me reiterate them for a moment so you can remember: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control. Against such things are no Law (Gal 5:22-23).  It's interesting that after explaining the signs of a Godly heart that the bible says there will never be a law telling you not to be these things.  Why then do we worry about our Rights and being equal so much and not letting this world get the best of us, that we start putting our guards up.  We start arguing about who is wrong and who is right, who should be silenced and who should have consequences.  Does this really sound like something Jesus would want us to do? Fight for our OWN rights, and not the rights of others?

In fact, I see the very opposite is given as an example from Jesus.  He had a right not to be sentenced to a terrible death.  Realistically, he could have been up in arms about it.  The bible even says he could have sent 12 legions of angels to rescue him on the cross, all he had to do was give the word and God would have done it for him.  But instead he went without a word, knowing it was his mission to show the World the real Love that God intends to show man and to give a perfect example of how we should act.  HUMBLE, without pride or reproach.  Can you imagine if Jesus went to the cross the way that some of us would go, kicking and screaming, demanding our rights.  I don't think it would have nearly as much as the repercussion that Christianity has become to the world.  And if you hear a preacher preaching an "Us Versus Them Mentality" you better believe it is not of God.  Because God loves the world and the people in it and as Christians we are to mirror that same love even if we feel we have not had the same in return.  It is easy to love someone that loves you back but it is another level to love and respect someone who doesn't show the same to us.  Or to someone who is different than us.  I love the Mumford & Sons quote from a song "The opposite of Love is Indifference."

I wish I could say that I am just speaking to other people but I am speaking more to myself.   I get belligerent when I feel that I have been wrong or have not had the same rights as others.  But if we are to make any difference in this world and show them a Love that is not OF this world, we have to look into our own selves and die to our own flesh and desires through Christ.  A lot of Christians think this is just for trying to live Holy but when the bible talks about putting on the whole armor of God, it is not to try and act perfect but to humble yourselves and be a living sacrifice as Jesus has been.  Becoming a servant before a ruler.  If we were to show that kind of Love to the World, I can guarantee they would have a different stance on Christians besides Intolerant or Bigot.  And worrying less about how "Holy" we appear and more about our fellow man and if they are treated fairly then we really will understand the true reason Jesus died for us.



Sunday, August 11, 2013

Living under Love is harder than living under law...


I was very inspired today by listening to the message at church because mainly it hits home in my heart and makes me examine my own.  We are doing a series called "Back to Eden" and the message today was about the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Before Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit they were totally dependent on God.  They had Peace in depending on God and not knowing everything.   They were shameless, naked and feared nothing.

My preacher Jonathan Martin, was talking about how Cynicism is very closely related to the first sin.  The serpent only had to whisper that they could be "like God, knowing everything."  I didn't realize this before but we still struggle soo much with that same sin, including myself.  At first, listening to this message I was thinking "Good.  This is a message about Pharisee, religious people who think they are better than everybody else." but it effected me too, because as I was thinking that, I was already placing myself above knowing more than other people.  I am already thinking I know who is right and who is wrong, kinda like I'm God.  Do you get my drift?

We grow up in a world where we are always making verdicts about everybody.  For example, ever known anybody for years and someone can easily whisper something in your ear about them and all of a sudden you start seeing them differently, just because of that?  Or you know someone who you look at as being in a higher spiritual place than you could never be at and then all of a sudden you find out something bad about that person and you actually feel relieved about it that they are closer to your level?  We start judging other people because we feel that we are more knowledgeable and have the right to discern what is good and bad, while also deciding who is good and bad.  We start thinking we are like God!

Totally blew my mind!  When you start "playing God" you start to slowly not need God.  You do not depend on him so much to help you see the problems in your own life because hey at least your not as bad as that person over there!  If you have the power to see good and evil why depend on Love and Grace when you can depend on your "moral system".  If you read scripture in order to gain the ability to make proper judgements, you're eating the fruit that Adam & Eve ate. That is what's wrong with a lot of us Christians and NonChristians in the world.  We have a skewed vision of what Love is and what it looks like, because since we have all fallen, it is not natural for us to see it.

In Matthew 7:1-5 Jesus corrects us with saying "Why look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye when you have a plank in your own eye."  We naturally see everyone else as having a plank in their eye and a speck in our own.  Love and scripture teach you to look differently at that, actually the opposite.

One example I saw in my own life as doing this was just yesterday.  I had plans with a friend to go out to eat and then they texted and said they were tired and just going home.  I didn't think anything of it, was a little disappointed because when your pregnant the nights where you feel like going out are few and far between so I just stayed home and ate pizza.  Then I heard the next day the person had actually lied, gone shopping with another friend and didn't want to go sit down and eat.  This isn't the first time that had happened with this friend so I was angry and hurt.  I WANTED to write them off.  I just couldn't see why "some people" were raised differently than me, because I was raised if you say your going to be somewhere you keep your word and you make an effort to be there.  Usually if I don't want to do anything I just tell my friend the truth and would never be shady.  But in essence since I keep MY value system, I expect others to do the same, and when they don't follow through with it, like me, I automatically see myself as being a higher moral, better knowing, more accountable person that them.  Once again, I have my own knowledge of good and evil and once again I am putting myself like God and above others.

This is not to take a jab at that person, it is to show my own vanity and pride in my life.  Is it easy for me to forgive and forget? No, it is not, I really don't wan to.  I want to feel better than  that person that hurt me, I want to feel more superior than them. I want to TEACH them a lesson  and I want to shame them (like I'm playing God).  It is sooo much easier to write people off that have hurt you then it is to LOVE them. That is why I say it is harder to live under Love than the Law because the law would make me feel better about myself in this situation, but Love makes me look at myself and the plank in my own eye.  I challenge you to look at situations in your life where you feel better and take more pride in yourself than other  people and are not totally forgiving of someone because you see they don't deserve it.  Guess what? You don't deserve it either.  Because as much as I try to uphold my moral values, I know I've hurt people too.  I deserve not to be forgiven but God is way more Gracious than me and he is teaching me to Love like he does, not how I see who is fit to Love.  Because so much Grace has been given to me in my life, I only need to Return that Grace to others tenfold.

Leaving you with this, here are some verses to help us live with Love instead of judgement:
-Live in humble self-awareness of your own humanity and sin.  -Rom 12:3

-Live in the Love that always hopes and believes (in others). -1 Cor 13:7

-Live the Love that covers others the way God covers us. -1 Peter 4:8



Monday, April 29, 2013

Wilderness...

So I've been reading this book called "Prototype" by a Pastor at church that my husband and I have been checking out lately, and I feel the book is on Point about where and what God has been teaching me lately.

Before I even started this book, the Lord has been taking me through a struggle in my life with something I thought I was done struggling with is Doubt.  Not that I doubt that there is even a God or that Jesus is God's son, I've already dealt with those struggles in the past and it only made me believe stronger in the end.  I guess the thing I'm most struggling with is Trust.

As Humans, we want to know that some things are in our Control, we don't want to re-lie on God if we can control it on our own and this is where I have been lately. Sometimes when things don't work out on our terms, we think God has left us or forsaken us.  In the book "Prototype" Jonathan Martin shows us the more Human side of Jesus and it is refreshing that even though Jesus is God-in-flesh he still needed to know that he was God's Beloved, he just didn't forget like we/I tend to do.

I thought it was neat that before Jesus even started his ministry, he had to get baptized first and when that happened the Holy Spirit descended from Heaven in the form of a Dove and God spoke "This is my Beloved, in whom I'm well pleased."  I use to think God did that as a confirmation to the others around but now I think God did it not only for that but more importantly a confirmation to Jesus, himself.  That was the starting point of his ministry.

Just like we hear voices from everywhere: media, television, friends, family etc. about who we should be (and sometimes they mean well)  and what we should do to be more deserving or better; God is calling us into a different place.  The worst thing Jesus could have done after hearing the voice from His father is to go straight into the ministry where the  hustle and bustle of society's voices are everywhere, God's words could have easily been drowned out. But Jesus' ministry/mission were too important to risk it so instead, Jesus was lead by the same Spirit that called Him Beloved into the Wilderness for 40 days.  This is not an easy place to be, even for the Son of God, but it is a very crucial place to be.  It was a test to withstand the Enemy but also a place where Jesus prayed and fasted for 40 days, this is where Jesus became Jesus.

In our day and age the Wilderness is not seen as a good thing.  More than ever we are more connected with social media, news and people easily with the click of a button.  I decided last week to go "off the grid" lol it seemed better in theory till it came down to it.  For 2 days I didn't look at ANY social media.  Whenever I felt tempted I read my bible or a book.  It was actually refreshing, I started "listening" to God more, wrote one of my best blogs and took a step back on some situations that I just didn't know what to do with.  But slowly I was creeping back on.... It started when I posted my blog, I just wanted to see some reactions, lol.  Then I wanted to see what one of my Fav authors was saying, because his statuses are very encouraging to me.  Finally, I just said "aw, screw it!" I wanna see whats going on with people!

Whether I like to admit it or not, I kind of like all the voices coming at me, and I like Man's approval of me.  Sometimes i get confirmation from them, but after I got back on I realized "This is what I've been missing?"  I started missing the Wilderness a lil more and realized God wasn't quite down there yet.  I miss that place where God was clearer and you can even see the Enemy's temptations more exposed in the Wilderness.  And some of the things I've been through lately, I really need my alone time with God because I can see more of WHY I'm going through some of the things I'm going through.

So I'm not on social media as much I would like to be cut off again, I'm working on that, I can't promise it will happen though.  I like social media but I don't want to be addicted to it like I was and I'm trying to go away from seeking my confirmation in Man.  I'm looking to Jesus as my Prototype and I want to FEEL like God's Beloved like Jesus did.  I don't want to look for my self worth in things, people, experiences etc.  Actually through some difficult experiences in life, I'm learning just how much God loves me and I'm one of his favs ;).  The Wilderness hasn't always felt like that and a lot of times it seems like a dry, lonely, doubtful place, somewhere I would have earlier never wanted to be.  I'm facing my doubts and fears head on, and my demons sometimes come out to taunt me.  It is a place of attack from the Enemy and it exploits my weaknesses and preys on my greatest fears.

But I'm coming to realize in the Wilderness God is leading me back to Him.  I'm thinking more clearly in here and though the Enemy comes, like he would wether I was in the Wilderness or not, he is more identifiable in here.  And its all comes back to the same temptations that Jesus struggled with. "If you are the Son of Man....If you are who God says you are...then prove it to me. Prove it to the world.  I love this one passage from the book about this:

"But that's one way we can identify the devil's voice:  It always plays on our fears.  It is the voice that tells us we must DO something to prove who we are, to prove that we're worthy, to prove that we are who God has already declared us to be.  When we know we are loved by God, we don't have to prove anything to anyone.  There is nothing we can do to make ourselves MORE beloved than we are."

So to my friends, (if you've even noticed) I'm not as connected as I was.  I just want to be in Obscurity for a lil bit right now and figure out all this mess in my head.  I love my friends and hold them dearly but the best thing for me right now is to keep my head down and press forward till this gift of Wilderness ends for me.  :) :)


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Getting more comfortable in my skin (introvert-style)....



First off being Introvert doesn't necessarily mean you are shy, in fact, no one is totally introvert or totally extrovert.  I, myself, am an Introvert and not a shy person talking to people one on one, but get me in a crowd of some strangers and I become quieter and a lot of times get "drowned out" even if it is a crowd of friends.  I hate when I go to work and have to be somewhere right after and don't get my recharge time at home.

I do looooove having my ME time and tend to be a home-body.  I enjoy my one-on-one time with my hubby but I don't mind when he leaves me alone.  I am not a TV watcher and usually when I have my alone time it is spent in a good book, writing, or sitting there dazing off and reflecting on my day or life.  I am terrible at small talk and can seem dis-interested a lot of times and this is probably true.     If something doesn't hold my attention span, I tend to be in Becky world and it is very hard for me to come back to the present sometimes.  I recently read a quote from Donald Miller, (one of my fav authors, who also does a lot of self-reflection) he said "It is painful for me to have small-talk" and boy am I right there with him.

I think the kind of small talk he is talking about is superficial conversation.  I am a hair stylist so of course I have small talk all the time, but I LOVE getting to know my clients! I want to know their life experiences and I want to share mine.  I share struggles and even contemplate my faith with them and probably ask them probing questions lol.  My clients know the REAL Becky and in turn I feel like I know the REAL clients.  Same with my friends, I am myself around my friends and I want them to be the same around me.  My husband and I joke that we have nerdy friends and its probably true (partly because we ourselves are nerds) but that is the kind of people I love! People comfortable in their own skin and aren't afraid to be themselves.  9 times out of 10 if you are yourself people either think your weird or nerdy and to me thats a complement! And it works both ways, if you are worried about people and their perception of you, you are probably (in my opinion) not being the real you and the real person God called you to be.

Do you ever feel like society in general puts pressure on you to be a different kind of person than yourself? I know I do! Not to say society thinks of me in a terrible way, it just seems that sometimes society doesn't know what to do with me or get how I work. I've been reading a book called "Quiet" a book on the quiet power that introverts have in this world. In the book Susan Cain, the author, talks about how us introverts are encouraged to be more like our friends, the extroverts.  We are encouraged to be louder and keep up!  A lot of times us introverts are overlooked with job promotions etc, because we are encouraged to "keep up" with the social part of our jobs which we sometimes fail at.  Introverts get their best ideas and more stuff done when they work alone.  This can be looked at as snobby or shy and is frowned upon in the American society.  Actually in Asia, the opposite is true there the more Quiet you are the more wise and studious you are.

When I was a child and even a baby, people thought there was something "wrong" with me.  As a baby I was very content just sitting there staring at things.  I didn't walk until I was 18 months and didn't potty train easily like my extroverted older sister.  My mom has told me she often wonder if something was wrong with me and in elementary school when I wasn't keeping up with my fellow peers they had me tested for learning disabilities.  I seem to pass them all with flying colors and their only logic was that I must be lazy, which was probably part of it.  Laziness is a constant struggle I have in my life.  But also because people always thought there was something wrong with me, I was starting to believe it too.  I made mediocre grades because I didn't think I was smart enough to be like my fellow peers.  I didn't think college would EVER be in the works for me.  It wasn't until I became a young adult and started thinking for myself that I decided I CAN actually be smart if I want to, I just have to apply myself.  I enrolled myself in college full-time, worked full time and payed for college upfront with my own money.

When I got accepted to UNCW it was one of the proudest moments of my life.  I accomplished something I never thought I could do on my own.  Education became VERY important to me.  Now, I love learning and even though I'm not in college anymore, I am forever googling every question I have and finding answers to everything.  I've learned I either have to be OCD about something or I'm not interested in it at all.  Guess there's no in between with me.

This part plays out in my relationships too.  I am all in or I'm not.  If I care about you, I want ALL of you and I want to give ALL myself to my friends.  As an Introvert we are very sensitive to stimuli and our surroundings.  When my husband lies or is upset, I sense it right away. Poor thing, he can't keep anything from me! The same with my friends I sense when there is a wall built up and although I hate confrontation I will ask them about it. Most of the time it gets resolved and sometimes it doesn't end the way I want it to but I would rather it end and there be no pretending anymore, it gives me anxiety to act like everything is normal when I know it isn't.  I think that's what wrong with us people, we like to make sure we like to look and act like everything is completely normal and that is dangerous.  It's okay for things NOT to be normal.  It's okay to see a therapist and its okay to be broken.  None of us are all put together so lets quit acting like it.

I recently took a hiatus from Facebook because sometimes to be honest, it makes me sad.  I recently read a study where it said that Facebook was making people depressed.  People felt like they weren't measuring up to their friend's lives that were posted on their news feed.  This has happened to myself and I was relieved that I wasn't the only one suffering from this.  To me, and I am sooo guilty of this too, it has become a brag-feed.  Let's show how cool, cultured, or active we are to our friends so people can think were keeping up too.  I want to be that person on my Facebook profile but sometimes I fall short of it.  I'm actually probably not that person.  That person is probably what I inspire to be. That person is probably nicer and more understanding than I can be but maybe I will get to be that hopeful more all inspiring chipper person I am on my newsfeed.  It has been a breath of fresh air not being connected and I find myself doing more important and productive stuff and not worrying about mundane things, as much. I like not having the pressure to be someone else all the time.

But anyways, after my Facebook rant, I am thankful for extroverts too because God uses them differently and we need all different kinds to build our society and also the body of Christ.  But I am glad, God made me the way I am for a reason. He is still working on me and I am nowhere near perfect.  But in the last couple of years, I have been finding out that God loves me for myself wants me to be no one but myself.  I love how Jonathan Martin in his book "Prototype" talks about Jesus understanding himself as God's Beloved and was sooo comfortable in his own skin, it blew people's minds!  When he cast demons out of a vexed man and afterwards the man was sitting beside Jesus in his right mind and whole, the people became scared and questioned him!! When you are comfortable in your own skin it becomes an infringement on people who aren't comfortable in their own skin.  They start trying to find something wrong with you and put you in a box you don't belong in.

I am VERY passionate about this because this has happened my whole life!! I am just now to the point where I am comfortable admitting that I was that lil girl that fell behind her peers and was a late bloomer in everything!  For a long time I was ashamed to admit it for fear that people would think I'm dumb.  Now thanks be to God, I am secure in myself and I am not measured by what people think of me but of what God thinks of me.  I am thankful for trials that help me to realize this even more and I have peace knowing everything happens for the greater good of his people!  I challenge you to be yourself and naturally you will probably be a MISFIT and naturally people won't like it.  It's okay, we need more misfits like Jesus in this world!!   There is no greater peace than your assurance that you ARE God's BELOVED walking in that will bring the greatest Joy you ever had. You will start to accept other people for being themselves and will appreciate and understand them more! Acceptance and Love are Key!

 Love yall and thanks for taking the time to read all of this! :)