Sunday, June 10, 2012


"Why didn't you do what I asked you to do?!?!?"

What is the typical context for this question?  Parents griping at their children?  A boss chewing out one of his employees?  What's the common theme there?  Someone in a position of authority dressing down someone under them.  Yet, I found myself very honestly asking this question of God a couple of days ago.  So, if we go with the observation I just made, this means that I had decided to put myself as the authority over God.

Why?  Well, there are a few scriptures that I was using to theologically justify myself.  Jesus tells us, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."  (Matthew 7:7)  He also says, "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you." (Luke 17:6)  Finally, the Bible also says, "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you" (James 1:5 no, I wasn't asking for wisdom, but I felt like it should apply.)

So, I have two things that are conflicting in my head.  First of all, I prayed adamantly about something - and it didn't happen.  On the one hand, I realize that I am not God, and I have no right to judge Him; He is definitely the one in a position of authority, and I am not.  Yet, at the same time, I don't know how this fits with His promises.  I realize, very honestly, that a lot of people pray for a lot of things, and many of them do not happen.  How many of you have had a loved one that was sick or dying, and that person wasn't healed?  If God truly gave us what we asked for in every situation, then I think that the human race would be immortal on this world, every sports team would win every championship, there would be a lot more people with more money, fancier cards, and prettier dates - but these are not necessarily the best things.  Also, we would have humans deciding what was best in every situation, even though our scope of understanding about that situation is incredibly limited.  I don't think that Jesus was saying in the verses I quoted that He has chosen to submit all of His power under our authority.  After all, if that were the case, then we wouldn't have to ask God to do something - we would tell God what to do.  

Yet, there is still the other aspect of this.  These statements of Jesus were God's promises towards us.  I have struggled with doubt throughout my life (it's one of the things I've written about previously).  So, it challenges (scares) me when I don't understand how God fulfills His promises.  The things I asked for were much smaller than moving an entire mountain - and yet they didn't occur.  Does this mean that I didn't have enough faith?  If I don't have a mustard seed of faith, then how can I have enough faith to reach out to God and to trust in Him about my eternal salvation?  It is very scary to me to realize that I am completely at the mercy of an entity outside of myself for my eternal destiny.  But, ultimately, I believe that this is what God is asking of us - to trust in Him explicitly, even when we don't begin to understand what He is doing.  And, at this point, I really have to just abandon my own understanding and let Him do what He will in my life.  Maybe then I will begin to gain understanding - if He chooses to share it with me.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Association With "Sinners"

"But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”" Luke 5:30-32

So, I haven't posted on this blog in a while, but it seems to be a place where I am able to think through various thoughts and inner turmoil, so I felt like it was an appropriate time to make a new post. Recently, I've been obsessing about my Board Game blog (that's probably something that deserves it's own post). One of the opportunities I have been offered is to be a guest blogger and to write a top 10 board games post. I was pretty excited about this and really just jumped at the opportunity. However, after I agreed, I was spending some more time looking on the site and, whereas they have top 10 lists of all shapes and sizes (well, really just always top 10), one of the topics was something like "top 10 porn stars of the decade" or something like that. My heart sank a little bit, and I really started debating on whether or not I wanted to be associated with this site that was willing to openly talk about and compare porn.

Here's the deal. I like sinners. (I almost put that in quotes, but ultimately decided that we are all sinners, so I guess it's just a fact, not a title.) Lots of people that the church has previously outcast I truly enjoy spending time with - they are valuable people! I have had friends who were homosexual, watch pornography, are in prison, and also who have more "acceptable" struggles (some of mine are arrogance and obsessing about things that aren't Jesus (ahem, that other blog...)). I am not ashamed that I spend time with these people that deal with these issues. Some of them are Christian and view these things as struggles, some of them are non-Christian and don't see a problem with what they're doing. If I spent all of my time with a non-Christian friend that was homosexual telling them that they are wrong instead of loving them like Jesus, then 1) I wouldn't be acting like Jesus, 2) I wouldn't actually be a friend, and 3) they would stop hanging out with me. I believe our calling is to love people. Whoever they are and whatever baggage they have - whether they're proud of it or not.  Jesus said to love them, not to condemn them.  And he lived what he preached (which regularly made the religious people want to kill him).

So, this gets me back to my hesitation with having my name associated with this other site. After I kept thinking and praying, I realized that I wouldn't have any problems being associated with the people from that site in person - I have friends that watch pornography. So, why should I be ashamed to associate with the site? The site doesn't (to the best of my knowledge) actually have porn on it, nor is it telling you that you should watch it - one of the guest posters just happened to have wanted to rank porn stars (which I could see some of my friends doing among themselves). What's more, just because I wrote a different post on the site doesn't mean that I am encouraging people to watch porn.

Here's my honest hope: I am hoping that people that struggle with pornography also like board games. And that since they like board games they click on links to my board game site. And after they are there, they find the link to this site. And now that they are here, they know that Christians struggle with stuff. But more than that, if you're here because you've followed that string of events, I want you to know that Jesus loves you. I don't think that pornography is good nor right, and I don't think that Jesus does either. However, I do know that Jesus would have spent time with you and would have been proud to call you his friend - whether you watched porn, or even if you were one of the porn stars! He would have cherished his relationship with you and he would have unconditionally loved you. If you stumbled upon this site some other way - well, the same goes for you. Jesus loves you too, wherever you are in life. This is something that I need to grasp and hold onto in my own life! Sometimes the most simple phrases continue being uttered well after they feel trite simply because of this - they are true.

Jesus loves you.