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The Rumors of His Demise… June 6, 2013

Posted by thesociallyawkwardchristian in Christianity.
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Hello, friends.

Long time, no blog. I wish I could have a good excuse for you. I got married and had a family and moved to Orlando to work as an Imagineer. Joined the Peace Corps. Went on a worldwide adventure with Bob Goff. But, while those would be awesome. None are true. 

The real reason I have been MIA is not because I have been so busy. It’s not even that I’ve had nothing to say. I admit, at times I didn’t see the point in blogging about what I wanted to blog about when so many others can say what I want to say in a much more eloquent way. But, in all honesty, the biggest reason I haven’t blogged in over a year is the thorn in my side I’ve had ever since I was a boy.

Laziness.

I never have liked work. Which isn’t the awful thing to say, I realize. Most people don’t like work and just do it because we have to. The strange thing is, blogging is a type of work I enjoy. It re-freshens and rejuvenates me. But, some times I just wanna watch TV or stare at the wall. It’s particularly hard to write when feeling depressed or tired, as I have been for much of the past year. The day to day job I work really is slowly sucking the life out of me. Plus, I’ve had a few failed attempts of wooing a woman or two that haven’t set well with me, combined with not getting a couple of jobs I really wanted has led to a feeling of being drained all the time. These are all reasons I should have been writing. But, after being in such a funk for such a long time, eventually you learn to live with it and become comfortable  enough where you don’t want to exit it. That’s me. 

I’ve always written for myself, first of all. When people say they enjoy my writing or it’s helped them in some way, that’s great. I praise God for that. But, the truth is before it helped anyone else it helped me first. My most popular post, The Truth About Being a Socially Awkward Christian, helped me to reveal what really goes on inside my head in social situations, as well as figure out how to deal with them. The fact that I still get comments on that post that I wrote almost three years ago speaks volumes to how much healing God can do when we are really just open and honest about our own demons. 

Such is the reason for this post. As I have said, I’ve been in a extremely low point lately. If God really uses my writing to bring healing to myself and to others, then I have no excuse but to write.The thing about laziness is that the only cure for it is the one thing that it hates: work. It’s like the cure for being greedy is to start giving. But, I don’t think any work cures laziness. In fact, if all the work we do is work we hate, I think that makes us lazy in the work we love. So we have to fill our free time with more work, the kind of work that refills us rather than drains us. I applied to another seminary. The seminary I wish I had gone to 9 years ago instead of the college I did. It’s scary because it involves doing more work than I have in awhile, not to mention it could bring with it a lot of debt. But, when a cancers like laziness and depression start eating at your soul, the worst thing you can do is just sit there and die. Risk is apart of life, especially a Christian’s life. And you don’t risk anything by being scared and lazy. 

Here’s hoping I’ll see you soon here on this blog. I’m going to try and work to not be away for so long again. Thank you to everyone who reads this for your support. 

 

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Why I DON’T Believe Everything Happens for a reason December 15, 2011

Posted by thesociallyawkwardchristian in Christianity.
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“I know everything happens for a reason…”

It’s one of the most common theological statements I hear. One that is stated without even a hint of doubt. People are supremely confident that no matter what happens, there is a reason for it. A lesson to be learned through the event. The problem is, I don’t think it’s true.

Just this morning, one of my Facebook friends posted this status:

If you love somebody, let them go. If they return, they were always yours. If they don’t, they never were.

Translation: If you go through a break up, there’s a reason for it. If you get back together, the “timing” wasn’t right. If you don’t, there’s somebody better out there.

It sounds good on the surface. Que sera sera. Whatever will be will be. Whatever happens is God’s Will, right? Well…not necessarily.

The false belief is that whatever happens, is what God wanted to happen. The conventional thinking being that the only reason God would ever let anything bad happen to us whether it be a break up, a job loss, the death of a loved one, or even something on a grander scale like Hurricane Katrina or the Japanese earthquake, is to teach us something to fulfill His purposes for our lives. In some instances, that probably is the case. God certainly does allow certain things to happen to us for a reason. But, everything? I don’t think so.

To say that everything happens for a reason is to say that everything that happens is what God wants to happen. This simply is not true. The presence of sin attests to that. Does God EVER want us to sin? Of course not! Yet, sin exists. In fact, I believe that some negative things happen to us because of our own sin and poor decisions. However, it’s a lot easier to say that the consequence of our sin was just God’s Will and there’s a reason for it than facing the real reason for it: our sin. Also, The Bible is clear that God never wants anyone to die (2 Peter 3:9), but while death has been ultimately defeated through the cross, people still die. This all goes to show that God does not get everything He wants.

Make no mistake, God is in control. But, that does not mean He is all-controlling. He is sovereign, but He is also sovereign over His own sovereignty and He has sovereignly decided to give humans free will. Often times, that free will results in chaos and things happen without any reason. Now, I must say, I find this comforting. It’s comforting because I don’t have to look for the reason in every bad thing that happens to me, I can just trust in God to heal me. It’s comforting because I can rest assured that God has my ultimate good at heart and is not predestining things to cause me pain. It’s comforting because God can bring peace in the chaos.

There is a reason for some things. I trust that God will be able to teach us the reason without us having to obsess over what the reason might be when there is a reason. When there is no reason, we can still trust in His promise that He will make ALL things no matter how painful, chaotic, or reasonless they may be, work together for the good of those that love Him (Romans 8:28).

The Problem of Prayer: An Experiment November 9, 2010

Posted by thesociallyawkwardchristian in Bible, books, Christianity, confession, Greg Boyd, hearing God, life, Peter Lord, Philip Yancey, prayer.
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Prayer is one of those things that is fundamental to following Christ. Most Christians would agree that prayer, along with Bible reading and going to church, is one of the most essential things to living a successful Christian life. The interesting thing is that while it is considered essential, not many people actually do it that often (the same could be said for the other two), and even when people do pray, they often don’t think they are very good at it. I’m one of the latter. Now, I might pray a line or two throughout the day when something enters my mind that I know I need to pray for. Also, I meet with a small group to pray for about an hour each week before my church’s young adults service, and I actually surprise myself at how well I pray out loud. My problem is sitting down and having focused, intentional, personal prayer time with God. I have no problems spending a lot of time reading the Bible, but when it comes to really pouring my heart out to God in a time of  concentrated personal worship, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication, I feel that I lack. This really bothers me because I believe that prayer changes circumstances, people (the person praying most of all), events, at sometimes can even change God’s mind and will cause Him to act in a way that He would not of acted if no prayer was prayed otherwise. With this view of the power of prayer,  not only is prayer a privilege and a right but also a great responsibility. Therefore, there is no excuse for me to not pray.

I have had knowledge of this problem of prayer in my life for awhile now, so I was excited when the young adults ministry at my church started a three week series on the topic of prayer. The more we studied about it the more I realized that I needed to make a change. I started re-reading two books that have influenced my views of prayer the most, Hearing God by Peter Lord and God of the Possible by Greg Boyd, and picked up  Philip Yancey’s Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference?  These books and the series at church have helped motivate me greatly, and I feel that God is leading me to try the experiment that I’m about to share with you. Some people may think that this is too small but I think it’s a good way to jump-start my prayer life.

The experiment is this: for the next thirty days I’m going to spend at least one hour in concentrated prayer everyday. Through these thirty days I’m going to try different techniques, formulas, and models. Sometimes I will follow the formula I learned in seventh grade called the ACTS model (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication). Other times I will open the Bible and pray the through the Scriptures, mostly the Psalms, but this will not be a time of Bible study. I will also pray the prayers in books such as The Book of Common Prayer. I’ll try these multiple methods to try and determine which I find to be the most helpful for me to maintain a consistent time with God. Some time over the next 30 days I will also try to take a 3 day personal prayer retreat where I leave to go stay somewhere and leave all forms of technology behind and spend all 3 days in prayer, fasting, and Bible study. I will attempt to blog about my experiences as much as possible. Hopefully, this experiment will enhance both my prayer life and yours as well. I challenge you to try this experiment yourself and we can dialogue about what we’re going through together here on the blog.

UPDATE: As soon as I posted this blog, Greg Boyd also posted one on the same subject. I strongly recommend it. http://www.gregboyd.org/blog/my-car-crash-and-the-open-view/

Are there any prayer models like the ACTS model that you know of that you can share with me?

What are some books that have helped your prayer life?

Will you be trying the prayer experiment with me?

Contextual Healing May 5, 2010

Posted by thesociallyawkwardchristian in Bible.
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I like to read. I’m reading over five books right now, not counting the comic books I usually read before bed. One is a book on Christian Apologetics, another is a book on how to teach youth Christian Apologetics, another is a book on stupid things people in relationships do, another is one on a theological view called Open Theism (I’m re-reading this one), and the last one is a fictional classic called The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. I’m learning a lot from all of them and I’m sure that their authors are happy that I’m reading them (except for Lewis, I guess it’d be kinda hard for him to be happy I’m reading his on account of him being dead). In fact, as a wannabe writer myself, I can tell you the only time I’ve ever been unhappy with someone reading my writing is when I hear someone take something I’ve written out of context. Taking something out of context can totally pervert an author’s intended point, sometimes it can even totally reverse an author’s point. I recently read an article by a secular news website that called into question one pastor’s request that the members of his church have sex everyday for one week.The article mentioned how this was contrary to the Bible’s stance on sexual purity and they interviewed other evangelical’s opinions on this pastor’s radical request which of course was met with great disdain from the evangelical community. I tended to agree with most of the opinions I saw, until I decided to listen to the pastor’s sermon for myself. Within the sermon’s context, I discovered that this pastor requested (challenged) the MARRIED couples to have sex everyday for one week and asked the singles not to have sex until marriage. The whole point of the pastor’s message was that sex was created specifically for married people. The news site took the message completely out of context, totally reversing the pastor’s point.

Knowing that taking things out of context can lead to misinterpretations is why we must be very careful to read the Bible in context. In her great book on Bible study, How to Study Your Bible Kay Arthur says, “context is determined or identified…by carefully observing what is repeated in the text and seeing how it all relates.” There are whole churches, denominations, and theologies that exist because someone took something out of the Bible without observing how it related to everything else in the Bible. We must pay close attention not to do the same. Here are some ways that help me from not taking the Bible out of context:

1. Don’t skip around. The best way to read the Bible is by prayerfully choosing a book that you want to study and start in the first chapter and read all the way through. It’s also good to read entire sections of the Bible like this (The Gospels: start in Matthew read all the way through John; or books written by the same author: Start with John then 1, 2, 3 John, then Revelation or Luke then Acts, etc.)

2. Avoid the “Magic 8-ball” style. Several bad choices have been made by closing your eyes, asking a question, then opening the Bible and pointing at your “answer.”

3. Don’t rush through. Some people will speed through their reading just to say they did their reading for the day or to say that they’ve read the whole book or something. The problem with speedreading the Bible is that if you remember anything you’ve read at all you’re likely to overlook something important. It’s okay to spend a large amount of time on a small section as long as it’s soaking in. At one time, I spent almost a month on one chapter alone ( Romans 8 ) and felt like God showed me something new everyday, and I still feel like I barely scratched the surface!

4. When reading Christian books, keep a Bible handy and check any Bible references to see how they are used to illustrate the author’s point. You’ll be shocked at how some Christian authors will “stretch” a verse (take it out of context) to make it fit their point. (We call doing this a “prooftext”).

Following these ideas haven’t completely cured me from taking a verse out of context or misinterpreting the occasional verse, but they certainly have helped. I’m sure they’ll help you too.

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