D&C

Desperation is such a hard thing to live by.  To have it, you must always be concerned about where you are.  And to me, this sounds contrary to all I know.  However, I trust that God has more for me at all times.

The two things I desire more of seem to go against each other in many ways yet I am pursuing both equally in Him.  Through logic, I believe they make a paradox.

Desperation
and
Contentment.

Desperation is being despaired to want more.
Contentment is satisfied with where we are.

In Christ, I yearn for more of Him yet can find peace in where He’s taking me and what He’s bringing me toward.

That is huge.

In the urban dictionary, desperation is 3 things:

1. a desperate state of mind. “I can’t put up with this much longer.”
2. in dire staits. “I don’t know how much longer I can hold out.” and my favorite one:
3. in need of a bathroom. “I really need to pee….NOW!”

I yearn for both of those things at this moment and truly wish for God to use me even more in the coming days.

Comics

Ever since preparing to see the Avengers, I have been enamored by comic books. I am not entirely sure why I get so wrapped up with them again. But I can’t go an hour thinking about which one I want to start next. It is almost becoming an obsession.

And I am loving it. Don’t get me wrong, they are not becoming an idol or anything of that nature. But they are becoming my main source of entertainment.

It is so interesting to me that the thing I used to insult other kids for is now what I love. That is how life works, I guess. I know many people who hate comics but love the movies. These people will probably look down on me for pulling out the latest issue of Batman when they themselves will wait in line for the newest movie to be released. It doesn’t really baffle me that Avengers has almost made a billion dollars because everyone loves a good story. Especially when combined with great actors and great superheroes coming together.

I can’t get enough of the new comics that I’m reading. Some are actually really old because I missed some of the main arcs in comics because I was too biased to check it out for myself. And I regret my preconceived notions. I missed out on a lot of fun due to my stubbornness. So as a 28-year-old man, I am now officially a comic book geek.

You might find me spending some time in the local comic book store reading about some Bruce Wayne’s latest adventure. Or it could be about Tony Stark, Hal Jordan, Yorick Brown, Rick Grimes or any other character that I’m learning more about.

What is the thing you do just for fun at this moment? You can’t include something you have to do. I love music but a lot of times I am simply practicing for my next gig or my next time leading worship. It is a lot of fun and what I consider to be my life’s purpose (leading others closer to God through music) but this is not my hobby. It is so much more than that because I’m expected to do it.

What is the thing you only do in order to have fun? Not to accomplish something but to just enjoy. For some it is golf (which I will never understand). For others, it is sitting at a park reading a book (which I also love to do). But what is the thing that just brings you happiness. If you don’t have one, go find out what it is and just embrace it. Go enjoy.

Number One priority

“The number one priority in the life of a true disciple should be having a meaningful time with God daily.  If nothing else gets done in your day, this must get done.”
– Bill  Bennett

This is something that I have been working on the past few weeks.  It is not something I struggle with because I tend to share almost all my thoughts with Christ.  However, I now have 3 jobs that are keeping me busy for the summer and it is getting harder and harder to find time for myself, much less for God.  And I realize just how much God still needs to work on me about.

Sometimes I still view spending time with Him as a chore and He is breaking me of that desperation.

When I get off work, I honestly don’t want to go to my Bible or pray.  But it is something that I realize I’m lacking in.  Also, lacking in this area has truly led me to more frustration and worrying.  And this should not be.  So I’m getting back into a regular routine wherever I can find it.  Because God is worth it.  And frustration is not worth it.  So I will pursue Him if for no other reason than to see my life greatly enhanced.

But I realize just how much my happiness and joy are tied to His glory and fame throughout the earth.  So it’s better this way.  I would encourage you to pursue Him with all you have today.

Set list 5.13.12

Let God Arise – Chris Tomlin
Sing sing sing – Chris Tomlin
Alive in us – Hillsong
Everything – Lifehouse

All I need is you – Hillsong United

We had a great time at church this past Sunday.  We had some things for the mothers in our church and also Tim shared a great message about embracing God for all that He is and not settling for a “normal” life or a “normal” church.  It was a truly eye-opening sermon and it truly showed me how far Tim has come into the heart of God.  His message focued on Luke 2 and he showed us that some times we can be in the right place and at the right time and still miss Jesus.  Just as Luke 2 shows us, Christians can be in church and miss him.  Mary & Joseph both could not locate Jesus and couldn’t find Him for 3 days.

I had a great time of worship this week and I was blown away by God’s faithfulness to us.

Thoughts on Amendment 1

Over the past few days, I have seen so much hatred. More than I ever thought I would. I know this is a heated issue and it was because of that, that I was not going to respond at first. Not because I am scared of what I believe. I was honestly wanting to keep it civil but some of the barbaric and false assumptions led me to react here and now. I have prayed over what to write and I pray that what I say comes across as I mean it to – with complete humility and love for others. The sad thing is that those who claim to seek equal rights are the ones who are bashing people for using those equal rights. Let’s not just say we want equal rights for those to whom we share the same views but for all.

As someone who voted for Amendment 1 (I will explain why soon enough), I have been called names left and right by people I used to respect. I have even heard some friends say that they wish “old people would die” or that “we should decrease the voting age so that senile adults no longer get to dictate their ancient and unfounded, biased beliefs.” I know some who hide behind their computer screens and bash our state because they disagree. What more childish way to have a debate. I know friendships that have been ruined because of this issue and that should not be. I know of no person who voted for this or against it that wished harm on another person. I know some households where husband and wife voted opposite of one another in mutual love and respect. For those who have remained civil, I thank you. You truly stand above the crowd.

To start, I just wish to say that I have not heard one iota of a fact, except mere speculation, in relation to what this amendment leads to. There have been no consequences for the other 30 states that passed this amendment in relation to civil unions, health insurance, or even people leaving our state over this issue. We are actually the last state to vote on this. Even Hollywood has voted to uphold a man and a woman only marriage so it baffles me immensely why our state is being ridiculed for something most states have already upheld. The harm done in relation to passing Amendment 1 is just as fairy tale as it not passing.

However, for the states that now legally support gay marriage, many things have already begun to dismantle tax exemptions for churches holding to their beliefs and convictions. In fact, Massachusetts (which allows gay marriage) is contemplating taking away the rights of churches who won’t marry homosexuals in their churches. And in NY, child pornography was recently voted in to be allowed viewing when not downloaded. The consequences of this amendment are still to be interpreted and have no effects immediately.

Just so you know, I am not for my almost 2-year old son hearing from teachers about homosexuality. I will not stand for my state passing out information on how to have sex with the same sex, including graphic images, which is currently happening in some states that support same-sex marriages. I don’t want heterosexual literature to be passed out either but we have reached a critical juncture where nuns pass out condoms and where teen pregnancy is on the rise and I will stand against sin in this nature. And I don’t apologize for that.

I voted for Amendment 1. I know that this might come as a shock to you but that’s okay with me. I spent hours reading on this Amendment and in Scripture and arguments on both sides and felt that I could not go against my convictions. And before you get started on this whole “what about separation of church and state” thing, let me just say that I can’t help vote according to my faith and I won’t stop because my faith is the basis for my convictions. Separation of church and state was put in place so that the church was not dictated by the whims of the state not vice versa. Our government should want people who are seeking love and truth to vote and be involved in the political process, especially religious persons. Any sane person will realize that we can’t help but keep our faith and convictions at the forefront when voting. I have never heard someone say to a Muslim or Jewish person that they should keep their convictions to themselves.  So why all the backlash on Christians?  I do believe in separation of church and state just not in the way most of my friends do. I believe that separation of church and state was put in place to save the church from political influence. Not that Christians or any other religious individual can’t vote according to their convictions. Just so you know, since I’m probably going to be ridiculed regardless, I believe that abortion is wrong. I believe wholeheartedly it is murder. As Mother Teresa once said, “If you don’t want your babies, give them to me.”

But know this, since I voted to pass Amendment 1, I am not going to now try and make it illegal for homosexuals or any other person to be together through a civil union. If marriage is simply a financial decision, according to our government, that is not going to change. If it does, then I will support another amendment making it so civil unions will be upheld. But that has not been the case in 30 other states that we are trailing behind of. In fact, I have heard no evidence of someone losing health insurance due to not being married. Also, in relation to the domestic abuse cases that were dropped, that’s not true either. They were simply changed to a 50B which is a regular assault or abuse case.  The fact that some think people believe that people can rape the people they live with and get away with it is ridiculous. The law has never simply protected those who are married. Abuse happens a lot now among people who aren’t married and people are still convicted for their crimes. And as for kids who will be forced to leave their families, that is not true either. You can still adopt kids as your own without being involved in a civil union. Foster parents do it all the time. This amendment does not change any of those things.

This amendment does nothing but allow the people to vote when a judge wants to overturn the history of how we view marriage. It is four lines, people.  The sections just explain it.  Here it is: http://ncleg.net/Sessions/2011/Bills/Senate/PDF/S514v3.pdf
All of the consequences of Amendment 1 passing are simply conjecture based on how people believe the courts will interpret this Amendment. And not one state has interpreted it to take away rights as the ones speculated above.

As a Christian, I have continuously apologized for what fellow “Christians” have done and continue to do. There is no excuse for all the hypocrisy and hatred that have been supported by “Christians” and I am sincerely sorry for that. I know that I have done tons to offend everyone under the sun. And I plead for your forgiveness. However, I won’t apologize for holding to what I believe.

I believe homosexuality is a sin. I will not back down on that. There is no Scripture that allows for a compromise on this. In fact, I also believe heterosexuality is a sin outside of marriage. Scripture only points to truly life-giving sex in a monogamous marriage between a man and a woman. To go a different way, in my humble opinion and in theologians throughout history’s opinion, is to go against God’s holy word.

In fact, to say that I am bigoted and just like Hitler is ignorant and quite a bigoted statement to say. Look at the log in your eye before pointing out the one in mine. I could go down the lists of arguments but I won’t do that. But I will answer this one: what about the Scripture that says do not judge? Jesus says do not judge. But this is not usually interpreted correctly. To look on sin and call it what it is is not judging. It is simply pointing out the truth. To condemn someone and say that there is no way out in their sin is judging. I don’t go to homosexuals or promiscuous heterosexuals and say they are going to hell. I don’t condemn them to hell. I do call out the sin and say what it is but there is a way out. In fact, Jesus set condemned people free and then asked them to go and sin no more.

Here is another area I will probably get push back on: I believe someone is not a homosexual. You are person who has homosexual tendencies (or you decide to pursue men or whatever other wording you prefer). I don’t go around calling myself straight. Those outside of my view label me that. In fact, I don’t go around calling myself a Christian. I pray others see those things in me. I believe that people everywhere have tendencies to live according to the nature of sin within them. I have tendencies to lie and eat fatty foods and to be jealous/envious of others and lustful and a thief and prideful and selfish. Those things are just as much a sin as anything else. I’m not holding homosexual sin up any higher than the other ones. But I believe it is a choice. Just as much as me choosing to prefer women. I know guys who could probably be gay if they chose to be but they choose to live according to God’s word.

And here is the crux of it: I don’t believe marriage is a civil right (which I might admit Obama admitted as recent as 2009). In my opinion, at this time, I don’t believe it is a right.  I think it is a God ordained act between a man and woman before God and before His people.  My view on this could change, as I am willing to admit, but it is not how I feel now nor how I have felt at any time in the past.  My belief comes from the fact that you are a person and not just a homosexual. To make abortion legal appalls me. To kill people appalls me. To steal appalls me. To make a law that makes those things legal is wrong to me. In the 1960s, black people and other minorities were not segregated because of any sin on their own part. They were cast off because of the color of their skin and that is/was/always will be disgusting. They were segregated because of the sins of others.  I believe minorities and all people should have the same rights as others. I do not believe sin should be allowed to corrupt the sanctity of marriage. Get a civil union. In fact, if you went to another state and got married, you are still welcomed to hold to that in this state. Even under this amendment.

Another thing, this whole back and forth is quite ridiculous actually. I have heard so many people say, “If you vote for Amendment 1, you’re a bigot and following in the footsteps of Hitler.” or “If you vote against it, you’re against marriage.” Neither of those are true. The whole premise comes down to this: I’m for God’s word and what it means to me and what it has meant to other Christians the past 2,000 years. I have been studying Scripture for years on my own and I see no compromise on this issue.

People have also asked about all the other Old Testament laws that we don’t follow today. Others have explained this very well so I will quote them. “That Christians pick homosexuality out of Leviticus as a sin and ignore other statues and rules is false. That is a straw man that is easily knocked down. There are very good exegetical reasons that we are no longer obligated to keep certain regulations from the Old Testament but still have to hold to others. We do not have to keep any law that is ceremonial in nature because its purpose was to point to Christ (Colossians 2:14-17; Ephesians 2:15-16; Hebrews 10:1) who fulfilled its purpose. Neither do we have to keep any of the judicial laws set in place for the nation of Israel. Jesus, Paul, and Peter acknowledge secular civil government as an institution that Christians are to obey as long as they are not commanding us to sin. However, we are commanded to keep God’s moral laws. This is stated over and over again in the New Testament. There are moral laws in both the Old Testament (for instance in the Ten Commandments, but also many other places) and the New Testament. These are to be kept by people at all times.” – Alan Hicks Homosexuality is a moral law that is meant for all people everywhere.  Pretty much all the laws that people bring up to prove that they’re right are ceremonial or judicial laws (such as two fabrics tied into one fabric, or women not speaking in church, or a vast amount of other things).  It is about time that people try and understand what the Bible means in its context rather than our subjective reading based on no prior knowledge and no expertise.

Also check out this commentary on Leviticus 19 & 20 which is usually the place people quote from when throwing out laws we aren’t keeping today: http://www.blueletterbible.org/commentaries/comm_view.cfm?AuthorID=2&contentID=7429&commINfo=31&topic=Leviticus&ar=Lev_19_7 or this one http://www.blueletterbible.org/commentaries/comm_view.cfm?AuthorID=2&contentID=7430&commInfo=31&topic=Leviticus&ar=Lev_20_2
I believe Scripture and theology is quite clear about which laws to follow and which don’t necessarily apply today. We don’t need to have a temple to offer sacrifices each week because Jesus is our ultimate sacrifice and those who believe Him can live an abundant life.

And I have a few friends who have mentioned the hypocrisy in voting for this amendment when we don’t support an anti-divorce amendment. Honesty, if this document comes about, sign me up. In our country, I think it is too easy to get married. The reason that people get divorced is because they are not truly in love in the first place. I look back at when I first got married and I am appalled at how selfish I was in my marriage. I did not love my wife then as I do today. So if there was more teaching in the church and in our homes, I believe most people who are married now would not have gotten married. I actually believe that if you raised the price of a marriage license to say $500, most would not get married (and it could potentially help out with tax relief!). Less divorces is a huge goal to reach for because it affects the sanctity of marriage just as much as the whole same-sex marriage issue. And one other thing about marriage, to point out Kim Kardashian’s marriage and Britney Spear’s marriages as to why there is no sanctity to marriage is a dumb argument.  You don’t point to extreme examples of people as the basis for why something should not be held to.  Marriage is something sacred and I believe it is something higher than what we know.  Hence, the reason a lot of marriages don’t work out.  It is the perfect example of Christ to an imperfect world involving imperfect people.  That’s why we should hold to it.

I don’t believe that God wants people to stay in their sin and I don’t believe that God is calling His people to stand aside and try not to offend the masses. In fact, our faith can be offensive at times. There are a lot of times where I disagree with where God is leading me. Yet my pursuit of Him should be relentless because I’m called to love Him above all else. And every single time I follow Him, I find my life greatly enhanced.  And I know a ton of people who are pursuing God in ways that seem contrary to the world and all of them would point to the abundant life that they are living because of that pursuit.

Honestly, I am saddened by the reactions of people on both sides of the argument and it frustrates me to no end that this is God’s law. To me, I wish it was okay for homosexuality to be okay. I honestly wish hell didn’t exist but it does. It is a reality that people choose for themselves by rejecting God all their lives. I love God and trust that He knows better than you or me. And to say that love for others trumps all is a false reality. God never called us to have all the rights and privileges in this world. There are desires that this world cannot fulfill. To quote verses like “love your neighbor like yourself” misses the point of this verse. The verse starts with loving God above all else. I don’t believe you can love your neighbor like yourself until you love God. And it is for this love of God and what He has revealed to me in His word,that I voted for Amendment 1. One last thing, I have seen many people showing pictures of men marrying each other and showing their happiness and also kids who are holding up signs asking for people to let their parents get married.  The caption says something to the extent of how can you deny them what makes them happy?  To me, that doesn’t sit well.  Not because it is convicting or anything like that.  It is not because I want people to not be happy.  I do want you to be happy but that’s not the point of this life.  Happiness is dependent on circumstances.  Everlasting joy lasts throughout all the trials and fires of life and I believe following God is the only way to experience everlasting joy.  And that’s what I wish for everyone.  To me, happiness is me getting my son a toy from Walmart when I know that 5 minutes after he has it will be on the floor.  It is better for me to point to a better way to live for my son and that’s also why I voted for Amendment 1.  Because I feel God’s law is above the whims and wishes of our society.

I am sorry if we disagree but honestly, just know that I love you and wish you the best. Thanks for reading and feel free to let me know your thoughts on what I wrote. I appreciate honest and civil dialogue so feel free to comment. I will delete all comments that are hurtful or bigoted to either side. I will not tolerate bigotry on whatever side of the fence you fall on. Thanks.

 

Set list 5.6.12

I had the pleasure of speaking this past week so I had Tommy & Joanna lead the service with myself on bass.  Honestly, it was a relief to just get there and slap some bass.

Both of them did a great job and I just wish to thank them for stepping up and taking the lead.  Here was the set list:

Let God Arise – Chris Tomlin
Sing to the King – Candi Pearson-Shelton
Worthy, you are worthy – Matt Redman
None but Jesus – Hillsong

Freedom Reigns/How He loves – Jason Upton/John Mark McMillan

What songs did you sing at your church this past weekend?

Quick game-changer

The past few days have been a crazy ride because I have been training at Olive Garden as a server.  Vickie and I needed the extra cash to make ends meet and God opened the door quickly and abundantly through this position.

But it truly has made me realize how much time I have wasted in my life.  You only know how much you can do when you push yourself to the limits and with having a lot less time, it really helps me prioritize accurately.

So I encourage you to look at what you wish to prioritize and truly be honest with yourself and assess whether you are giving it the time it needs.  It will truly be a game-changer for you.