It’s never been easy for me to grasp facing the fires. I guess at birth our conditioning starts and we prefer to experience pleasant days, green pastures, blue skies. Isn’t that what signifies God’s favor? A pleasant life? I would almost argue the contrary. From the first sin until now, this very moment story after story people have found them self in the fire. Adam to John, Job to Paul. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. The book cover of courageous men, Christians with a spine, finding themselves in the middle of the fire. It’s easy for us to see the lack of God’s control of a situation, when in fact he’s never left our side. He may not make the situation change, but what if….he’s walking through the fire and that’s the blessing? The fact that we are experiencing fires is the blessing? Remember, God didn’t promise that you’d walk through the rose garden, but he did promise he would walk with us through the fire. Count your blessings, don’t forget the fires.
In the past few weeks I’ve struggled with what it means to be Christian. I know, trust me I know, Christian means to be Christ like. (If you’re a Christian that’s the definition) But it felt/feels like I want a definition to the definition, but not just “well He was kind, generous, helpful, loving…” ect.
Maybe what I’ve been wondering is how does being a Christian pertain to me by definition. I think because the bible is “living” a meaning can change based on the person and the circumstance. To me this new self revelation of sorts has came through a week of detox from the world. We cut out all tv, all social media (with the exception of Facebook Pages for our business), 95% of video games on out tablets. At the end of all of this I’ve realized 3 main points about being a Christian.
- It’s Hard: I think it’s osmosis of sorts being in the world and having parts of the world creep into your life. But really, isn’t that part of being human? Completly eradicating the world from your life would mean you’re perfect, which you can’t be. This week I accepted for my self that I wouldn’t always be able to catch every sin before it happens and more times than not I wouldn’t see it until after it happens. All together with that, I’m not sure if it is because there really that much sin in my life or if separating my self from parts of the world has made it more evident by default, this week it really seems like it’s been one big failure after the other. I honestly believe that detoxing the world is the equivalent of pulling tint off a car window, before hand you can see a tinted reality of your life masked by your own bias of your self then after you can see a clear reality of the sin stained wretch that you really are. In other words it’s enlightening.
- It’s Enlighening: I would be remiss if I acted like any opportunity to drop parts of the world out of my life wasn’t beneficial. This week has brought a lot of realization to my life, things I need to change and other things I just need to drop all together. The most influential thing that I learned this week is freedom. Through out my life I viewed Christianity as restrictive, dogmatic, and more recently parts as legalistic. Restrictive because you couldn’t fully live (in this world), dogmatic because there’s a series of rules to live by and worship by (found in many Christian mindsets), legalistic because of the “rules” to gain salvation (most people when asked would deny this but all to often it’s really there). This week I’ve realized the former gangsta can worship in a different way than the redneck out in the country and still be worshiping the same God. I’ve realized that making a mistake is ok and as a human we might make it over and over and over, and although it isn’t ok to be complacent it is ok to make mistakes. The mistakes we make no longer define us once we get saved. I’ve realized something about music on a side note. There is a lot of really good worship songs in the contemporary Christian genre, equally there’s a lot of good worship songs in a lot of Christian genres and I think we (me included) tend to forget that. In the end it’s freedom. God can reach anyone on any platform with in the culture they grew up in. Knowing that is more than fulfilling.
- It’s Fulfilling: For once my thirst for God is at its apex, the more I experience the more I want – the deeper I want to go. The relationship I have, I want more. This week has been one of if not the most fulfilling experiences I’ve ever had with and for God and my wife. On the one hand I feel closer to her than ever, and I feel like our relationship is closer to God. That to me has been worth it all.
In closing I’ve wondered. Why does this for me have to stop this week? Why can’t I reach for more? I don’t like Facebook, I have played enough useless video games, it just seems like such a waste. Should I let it stop now? Go back to how it was? I don’t think so. This is…just the beginning. Being a Christian doesn’t have to be restrictive, but by definition I truely believe it would be summed up like this:
A christian is one who is’t sep’rates himself from the w’rld to beest clos’r to god
Have you ever just wanted to quit an addiction, even if for just a short period of time, to detox your body from chemicals that are self induced and abundantly damaging to your general wellbeing? My wife and I did….
Here lately I’ve been doing the Bible study, “The Resolution for Men”. A study based around the concept of the movie Courageous, designed specifically for men who want some good advice and a reminder to their calling from God. Going through it, it’s made me consider how every choice I’ve made, am making, or will make has been from a leadership standpoint (whether or not it was the right choice or not). Trust me I’ve made some terrible choices while at other times I sought after God’s plan and knew that I had lead me and my wife in the right direction.
Seeking after what I believe is His will for my life, this coming week we have both decided to take a fast from things that have proven to be a general distraction from not just Him but also each other. My wife is going to do a blog about it to some extent so I don’t want to steal her thunder, and I won’t go into any detail.
Sometimes you just have to detox the world out of your life. I believe that it would do everyone good to turn the world off and turn God and family on louder. I hope at the end of this period of fasting we achieve 3 main things:
- Spiritual Clarity: we aren’t really seeking clarity on anything specific. But for me, I want to be closer and have a deeper relationship to/with God. I want to stop for just a period and say “God, please speak to me, please be with me….please let me be close to you”.
- Marital Clarity: for me this isn’t an indication that anything is wrong with our relationship, to the contrary it’s still as amazing as the day I met her. But I fear more than anything complacency. I think you can get complacent while everything being great, which could be setting you up for a major let down when it isn’t great. To counteract that I think a couple has to always be sure to work together and serve the other.
- Sound Clarity: For me this is also about bringing simplicity back to my ever hectic life. I thrive off of 2 totally opposite things. I like the grind, the pressure to meet deadlines, the need to do efficient quick work. But….BUT….my wife will be the first to tell you one of my favorite things is to sit on the back deck drink a cup of strong coffee and smoke a quality cigar. I need both in my life but all to often the former outweighs the latter. So a week of playing cards, listening to country gospel, knitting, talking….is exactly what I need.
So hence forth we travel.
-What doest t profit a sir to gain the w’rld and loseth his soul?
When you involve yourself in Christian conversation with nonchristians eventually you’re bound to stumble upon the debate of interracial marriage. This is more common between the older generation and that younger generation. The past few weeks for me and my fiancé have been rough because we’ve faced many challenges and trials revolving around interracial marriage. No, before the thought creeps in we are not an interracial couple but we have several friends and family that are. Of course I could debate with you why we are all interracially or at least interethnically involved but that debate is for another blog.
What sparked this study for me was a situation my fiancé ran into but she brought to my attention. She was instructed that interracial relationships were against Gods perfect will. Which, I know, sounds racist to say the least. I like to have solid biblical grounding to support what I knew couldn’t be biblically correct, and this person quoted 2 Corinthians 6:14 “Be he not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath the righteousness with the unrighteousness? And what communion hath the light with the dark?” Obviously this person was making an assumed reference to the last part of the verse and I could go into detail but I think it’s fairly safe to leave it at: light equals saved persons vs dark meaning unsaved. This alone doesn’t prove or disprove this persons statement though, if anything it leaves it open ended.
So I was talking to my dad and he said didn’t Moses marry and Ethopian? I didn’t have a clue. So I checked. My search took me back to the little chapter in the Old Testament Numbers 12. This chapter tells us that Moses married a Cushite. Cush being in southern or south of Ethopia and the inhabitants known for their exceptionally dark skin, which is supported in Jeremiah 13:23 “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots”. What this chapter also tells us is that Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses for marrying an Ethiopian, followed by God punishing her for speaking against Moses, with leprosy.
Which raises 2 final points. First, racism and racial discourse has been going on for many many years, and it’s ludicrous to assume that it’s against Gods perfect will for interracial relationships to exist. Let alone verses supporting that skin isn’t a factor for God in general, and verses supporting being married to believers (those verses never mentioning skin color). Second, if we wish to end discourse things like race have to stop being a factor…for all races.
And so, I end with a quote in fact my favorite quote of all time
“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection, the mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature” -Lincoln 1861