The Picture Of A Best Friend

What characteristics define your picture of the word “friend”? What about a best friend? Are there key qualities which stand out from the rest that a friend must have? I believe there are, and I believe these qualities give significant weight to the way we treat others, ourselves, and the influence by which we decide to embody these qualities and influence others to do the same. Without these qualities, I believe the qualities of friendship corrodes, and I believe that the the behavior we use encourages others to follow suit; whether the influence we follow is the lazy selfishness of dependency, or the compassionate selflessness of a devoted ally.

I will break down my picture of what it means to be a best friend, and I would like you to share with me any qualities you feel should be added in the comments below.

We acquire the strength of compassion by witnessing it in action, or we deface its essence by drowning selflessness with narcissism. By seeing compassion in action, we see through the behavior or empathy and sympathy how important it is to reach outside of ourselves and lift others up with the strength we have from God. We are not strong on our own, and others need to know they are not alone, either.

Love without God is artificial and transient. Love isn’t sex: Sex is representative of something deeper. Searching for love only in sex is an incomplete journey. Love is emotional, and where sex feels amazing, the ecstatic sensations of copulation are not transcendent of feelings or their realities; it is, in fact, the opposite is true: Ecstasy derived from sex is the made possible by the emotional bond between two partners. Without their bond, sex is a flood or racing hormones, and emotions are dismissed as an unnecessary appendage. This indisputable mistake is detrimental to the relationship—which, in itself is only a conduit to hedonism. If sex is used purely for ecstasy, then the culmination of the bond is to appease the brain, not the heart.

Trust is built over time, and requires vulnerability and the amalgam of adversity with compassion to sustain. Experiencing hardship wth someone genuinely choosing to stay with us during a painful period is indicative of the desire to gain trust and deepen the bond; not only for themselves, but for you. Trust is either a cornerstone to a strong friendship, or part of the broken backbone of heartache and betrayal.

Vulnerability is transparency and honesty rolled into one. Telling someone your secrets is being explicitly vulnerable. Your darkest, most embarrassing, humbling flaws reveal your most susceptible self in a way nothing else can compare to. Openness is the window to transparency, and closing the shade over that is dismissing the desire to gain intimacy. Notice I placed trust ahead of vulnerability– because for many people, vulnerability comes after trusting someone; though, you can take a leap of faith and be very vulnerable and bold in discovering whether the person you opened up to is worthy of your trust. Undoubtedly, if they receive you well, the trust is that much more clearly unshakable.

Caring for someone does not equate with doing something for someone to elicit a response. We do not take care of our friend when they’re sick so that they’ll buy us what we want when they recover. An authentic person understands the difference between loving someone unconditionally and conditionally is the lack of expectation later on. The most caring person shocks us because we don’t expect their selflessness; yet the source of concern is not looking in the mirror, but helping your friend by being their mirror.

Kindness is such an underrated quality in today’s world. That’s why the kind people are the ones with the friends, because the only people in this world kind enough to make best friend material are the magnets for the rest of us. Beyond etiquette and politeness, beyond “please” and “thank you”—there is the core to a person who wants to be kind because they can tell it feels good to be considerate and generous to others when they can see their actions having a positive effect. However, being a positive influence is not testing others for a response; it’s acting on the will to do what is good and right (and usually unexpected) for the sake of being a difference to someone else ((showing the light of Christ through unconditional (perhaps unexpected) love)), regardless of whether they blink their eyes and ignore your good deed, or stop dead in their tracks with gratitude for your good heart.

When I think of a great friend, it’s someone who is dependable, someone who is able to be there for me regardless of what they’re doing. Some friends literally leave work to spend time others experiencing pain, and sometimes a friend will step aside their life schedule to call when a friend needs that favor. Dependability means not making excuses not to care, and choosing to be the kind of person who wants to experience every aspect of their best friend; good and bad, hard and easy; fun and depressed. A dependable friend knows to be there for you, and learn what it means to meet your needs in any way they can.

How often do our friends just drop away, out of our lives, like a rabbit in the hat a magician? There is pain to loss, and even deeper pain when loss carries no explanation. Being a constant in someone’s life requires both dependability and stability, caressing the wound of years past with a simple, “I’m here.” A best friend’s “I’m here” could be a decade–or several decades–worth of experiences building up to the culmination of being able to say, “I understand what you’re going through. You’re not alone. We’ll get through this together. Just stay with me, and everything will be fine”–in two words. A constant friend need not say much after a while, because their presence speaks volumes.

What kind of a friend are you? What kind would you like to be, and what road would you need to take to get there? Do the qualities of a friend stated here resonate with you? Do you know of many people who carry these characteristics–and do they inspire you to be like them?

Our characteristics are God-given qualities that were meant to keep us directed towards Him. Jesus showed all of these, and much more. Truly, if there’s an example to live by, it is Christ. Can we take from this and learn by His example?

Maybe this list is not what you expected. Maybe you have your own list? What does yours look like?

I hope this challenges you and encourages you to try to be more than you have ever been. God is with you and can show you everything you need to know if you’ll search for His presence within you. He is closer than a brother, and certainly the prime example to look to. I pray you are blessed this day, and inspired to do more and be more than you ever thought you could. May He bless your decision to be your best in all that you do. In Jesus name! 🙂

Understanding the Finitude of Disbelief

As an atheist-turned-Christian, I have seen and experienced (and participated in) a lot of spiritual/religious contention. In fact, reminiscing on my atheistic years, I remember being the skeptic doubter to raise the questions and complaints about a world under the supreme rule of God to my friends and family. While they tried to mitigate my anger, hurt, and confusion with what came across as glib religious Bible talk, I tried to undermine their desire to help me understand the very religion they seemed hardly able to explain to themselves. Religion was cliche, faith was irrational, and unconditional love was connotative to sex.

Today, there is either an explicit, apparent, and salient disconcertion towards the idea of God; and a phlegmatic, subdued, and even numbed attitude towards the concept of morality and theology. Secularism has nearly exhausted the human heart of its attempt to grasp the fundamental importance of embracing a belief system by attempting to denude faith of its soul. That said, I don’t believe theology or morality have lost their place in the conversation; such a thick subject simply requires delicacy and endurance.

THE MIRAGE OF THE RELIGIOUSLY PIOUS

There seems to be a sanctuary being built for the spiritually nomadic to distance themselves from the community of believers obstinate in their faith in Christ. In actuality, unbelievers are distancing themselves from the mirage of the religiously pious. Understandably, there are many believers who are carried away with spiritual pride rather than humility driven by the love of Christ; however, many times what appears to be the pious from a distance just so happens to be a group of open-minded individuals genuinely trying to lead by a good example. Underneath faith, ultimately, is a soul can recognize that stepping back into the darkness is choosing to be lost once more, and by trying to be a good example, a believer reminds him or herself who it is that they answer to, and why. To the unbeliever, this appears to be brainwashing, when in fact it is the believer’s armor against believing the lie that all of life is meaningless albeit the narcissism and ephemeral bliss of naivety; that living for oneself ultimately leads to feeling unfulfilled. The human heart wants to believe there is more to life than narcissism, and when we receive Jesus’s love, we no longer feel the need to be so selfish. In fact, not only does faith make us feel fulfilled, but it reminds us how ugly living for ourselves feels, and that it contradicts the purpose of the heart: To commune; to love and be loved.

The secularist feels the need to grab something they can feel with their senses; ignoring and resisting the sense of God’s presence from within. Where God can’t intervene physically without harming us on this plane of sin, He uses humans to step in and help; and where humans cannot reach—the spirit and the soul—God plants Himself, directly.

THE REALITY OF SUFFERING

Suffering makes the argument for disbelief in God more understandable—resisting the truth of the Bible, however, does not disprove its authenticity. Further, aiming vitriol at those who respond to its invitation sincerely does nothing but legitimize Jesus’s very warning to early Christ-followers that we would experience opposition in His name.

He already knew what was coming for the generations to follow—from public ridicule and censure to martyrdom itself. There was no doubt that Jesus knew the consequences of the reality He was calling us into as believers, but He did not lead us into a war blindly; Jesus warned us of what was coming and exemplified what it means to fight with love. After claiming to be God Himself, He was crucified. But when He rose again, the promises He made and the reality of life He called us into while leading us into battle became real, and that’s when we knew that what we were fighting for carried significant purpose. Now we need have no fear of death; Jesus overcame death itself by rising from the dead. Jesus does not call us to suffer in this life for the sake of His name for nothing—He was willing to suffer and ultimately sacrifice Himself—and in doing so, He defeated the sting of death and the fear of what’s to come by giving us the hope of a painless eternity with Him.

Believing in a personal God of love we cannot “see” is the foundation of faith, but Christ-followers do not follow this belief system blindly. In fact, if you asked a Christian how they “see” God working, they would give you tangible examples of how God speaks and acts through other people. In fact, one of the main differences between believers and unbelievers is that unbelievers expect if there is a God that He should be visible with hands and feet, ears and a head; whereas believers understand if God showed Himself in His natural form on Earth it would destroy us—we look for God inside of others, since the Bible promises us Jesus lives within us through the Holy Spirit. Demanding empirical evidence of God’s existence is more naive to a believer than rational because we believe God withholds Himself for our sakes. While Christ-followers do believe in miracles, more often than not the most personal miracle to occur is the testimony of a person’s heart being surrendered to Jesus and being born again.

I empathize with atheists first because I once was an atheist myself. What changed me from disbelief to belief was curiosity, first and foremost. I wasn’t looking for Christ, mind you—I was looking for answers. I searched for purpose, and I ultimately found God. I was willing and open to other faiths, but they sounded distorted.

DIFFERENT RELIGIOUS PERSPECTIVES

For me, “blindness” really means to convince ourselves that the answer to suffering in life is to pretend we don’t really feel pain, with the intention of feeling convinced we don’t have any pain—and that is how I would define what Buddhism teaches. The detachment from desire is the Buddhist’s way of denuding pain from the human experience. But I believe there must be more purpose behind pain than for it to be detached and ignored. Would we not automatically jump to the conclusion that God is evil if we feel we must ignore our capacity for desire if some desires lead to pain, while other desires lead to blessings? Is our desire for food bad? I don’t believe so. But desire for unhealthy, fattening foods all day long, every day is. But that is a matter of self-control, readers, no? If our reason for calling God evil is because we dislike the idea that God gave us choice–to control ourselves or to be manipulated—how is that reason to call Him evil and not call ourselves unaccountable or irresponsible? Not that Buddhists call God evil, but some people who think in the vein of “God must be evil because He gives us desire” sometimes lead themselves to the Buddhist mentality to eradicate the “problem” of desire and the pain derived of desire (and the eventually loss of Earthly attainments). Since that notion has never sat well with me, I never followed Buddhism.

Hinduism seemed far too ambiguous to me with so many different gods, and no authentic, distinctive way to practice the faith. If reincarnation is the heart of Hinduism, and our lives are only “correcting our spiritual wrongs by trying again,” then logically-speaking, the motivation behind Hinduism seems more like the logic of a video game: You just retry until you make it. If that is true, then what does that say about hate, sin, and evil? That undermines free will and serves the impression that justice isn’t necessary. Basically, if all we ever have to do is try harder, then we claim accountability to grow into perfection is attainable. But if that is true, what is the purpose of justice? What would that say about our intrinsic desire to see justice for wrong-doing? Would we really say “Hitler will be given more chances to live again and learn from his mistakes,” rather than, “Justice will be served on behalf of that person’s choice to act on behalf of evil”? If we acknowledge the weight of evil, then we comprehend how important justice is. Can we really trivialize evil to the degree that justice is no longer required? I think not. Therefore, Hinduism also did not resonate with me.

PERFORMANCE ISN’T THE POINT

In other religions, we must act and perform well in order to reach God. That is exhaustive and emotionally heavy to live a life where, for everything we do “wrong”, we must perform better to make up for it. What kind of god towers over our shoulder to make sure we’re acting perfectly all the time? Is that commensurate to an unconditionally loving God—looming over our every move like a secret agent waiting to shoot an electric shock down our spine every time we act out of line?

The Christian God does not need us to perform—instead, He invites us to be loved by Him. There is no ambiguity here: Jesus died for us on His own accord so that we could be with Him forever. He never asks us to be perfect, but He asks us to love each other as ourselves, and to love God with all of our strength, all of our soul, all of our hearts, and all of our minds. That doesn’t spell perfection, that spells choice. Will we choose to love others now that we know God loves us, or will we choose to be selfish and live only for ourselves? That is not a trap or a threat, that is an invitation.

INVITATION–NOT A “THREAT”

Atheists may see this invitation in the form of a threat, as if God’s ultimatum is “worship me or suffer,” but the resistance of the invitation to love is what causes us to suffer—not punishment by God. Does that make sense? Our suffering isn’t caused by God, but by our resisting His love for us. We are naturally created to receive love from our Father, similar to how we naturally receive and believe whole-heartedly in the love of our Earthly parents. We were made in the image of God, not the image of humanity. Therefore, we were created to be loved by God, and when we resist His love, we suffer. He is not causing us to suffer, but He does give us permission to choose to resist Him, and naturally, resisting what is good for us hurts. The same way choosing not to sleep makes us tired and choosing not to eat gives us a stomachache, choosing to rebel against God hurts our spirits for as long as we live in denial.

The way a car won’t work if you won’t put gas in the gas tank, we just don’t function well if we don’t have God in our heart. We weren’t made for anything else. And when we try to believe otherwise, the disbelief in what is real hurts us inside. So, can we understand the drastic pain of hating the idea of God and calling Him evil due to suffering, when we’re the ones resisting love from the God we’re complaining about? It’s sounds contradictory and even childish, no? The atheist sees Christianity as a joke, but the Christian sees atheism as closed-minded and empty. The believer also recognizes the bitterness of the unbeliever, wanting to share the Good News to offer them the hope of Jesus. It’s only sad when an unbeliever can’t see their own contradiction of belief: They would rather stay doubtful and unfulfilled than joyful an fulfilled.

The invitation presented to us all by God has nothing to do with earning or deserving anything. There is nothing we could do to earn God’s love. Not only because we are so imperfect and flawed by our sin, but because God has already chosen to love us, regardless. The problem is never whether or not God loves us, the problem is whether or not we receive His love. Secularists may complain that God must be evil and has favorites, but there is no proof of this stated anywhere in the Bible, so this claim has no grounding. God loves equally, and He sees us the way He sees Jesus if we believe in Jesus. That is a free gift of love. Receiving it is a choice we must make, and once we do, everything changes. And that “changeby the wayis what is described by the Christian as being “reborn.”

MOVING FORWARD

Where do you stand today in your faith? Do you dismiss the idea that love is in fact a free gift of God, and not something you must earn first before asking? What about Christianity makes you question the love of God, and the sacrifice of Jesus? What loopholes have you found, and what would you like explained or uncovered? If there is anything at all, please post that in the comments below, and I will happily address anything as best as I can.

Today is a day for us to walk away from confusion and to start clearing the fog: Christ loves us! If there is anything you need to know today, it is that. The truth of life is that Jesus loves you. Whether or not you receive that is a choice you must make, but the choice you make to receive His love or to resist it is a choice that will change your life for the better or worse. You will feel pain, yes–with or without God. But without God, you will experience pain as if alone—though you are never alone. People will try to comfort you, but our energy-spans are limited. God is infinite and omnipresent; He will never leave you to your pain by yourself. God doesn’t always erase the pain in this life, but He promises us eternity without any at all if we will follow Jesus first and foremost. Jesus is the answer because He did what no man could ever do: He defeated sin on the cross. Because of that, He is our best friend and “closer than a brother.” Resist this and yes, we will suffer the feeling of being alone because God won’t force Himself upon us. But receive His love, and we will come to know the feeling of never being alone again. Receiving His love into our hearts means believing in the Truth that His love is real, it exists, and it is FOR us. Once we have it, we can never lose it! It’s ours! Receive His love and be transformed by it, loving others with the love that becomes of that transformation inside you. Jesus will lead you on this journey. He has been knocking on your door since day one. It’s time to decide whether such a loving, persistent Friend is worth letting in; one that holds the keys to hope itself. He has proven Himself worthy. Will you release your doubt and accept His love? You don’t have to deserve it, because you never will.

It’s His gift to give, and He’s handing it to you right now.

What will you do? Be blessed!

Sated

Paving the Path For Trusting God: Part 2

God knew what He wanted with humanity far before He even breathed into causing the Big Bang. All of creation was done for Jesus and by Jesus, and that makes the story of creation that much more beautiful, colorful, and saturated in sentiment. Do you realize what that means about Jesus’ crucifixion?

OUR LOVE STORY WITH GOD

While many people look shamefully towards the cross, the cross represents a part of the love story between Jesus and humanity– or, from the big picture perspective— between God and humanity. See, the cosmos and all of creation were made by and for Jesus, so the love story between humanity and Jesus is that we are the centerpiece that Jesus had in mind for the creation of our solar system, and the reason for all the orbiting planets making Earth the most life-sustainable planet in the galaxy.

That isn’t even beginning to mention how God birthed us into creation during the most auspicious time period, when we were able to integrate and learn to utilize the tools necessary to discover for our very eyes the origins of the galaxy during the Big Bang!

This provides evidence that God wanted us, intentionally, to be able to see for ourselves our entrance into the existential plane of time and space dimensionality, so that we would come to learn the critical role time played in the process of humans creating amply advanced technology to look into the past and witness our entrance; to witness for ourselves that there was and is no better time for us than now—because before or after now and the galaxy would have been too dark to discover any of these historical divulgences.

THE PURPOSE OF THE COSMOS IS US

God wanted us to know that the galaxy is for our existence, and then as we combine that story element with the reality of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, what we have is a more complete story of how Christ loved us SO MUCH that He not only created the entire cosmos for us—but He even came down and died for us Himself so that we would not be separated from Him (should we choose to accept Jesus’ love for us into our hearts and live transformed lives by loving others, ourselves, and God) after we chose to rebel and transgress His divine laws and love for us (For more information about the details of the cosmos, the Big Bang, and how science actually complements Christianity in the sense that facts about the cosmos directly link back to the Bible–please reference back to Leslie Wickman’s “God of the Big Bang“, and also Hugh Ross’s “Why the Universe Is the Way It Is“).

Does that change at all the perspective we have in regards to seeing God as a God worth trusting?

A TRUSTWORTHY GOD

Knowing these details, we can explicate the way God responds to our pain and our questions by His attitude towards both our creation and our suffering. Having accomplished so much for us for the sake of our convenience, what we can take from this is that the facts point directly to the great care and consideration God has for us as a race. Why would God work so carefully for the last part of creation–the very pinnacle of creation, in fact– if He did not care about us? And, to connect dots–would we not place trust in a God who would put so much meticulous, careful planning into making our existence so worthwhile?

One of the problems I had as an atheist with putting trust in an “invisible” concept like God was the fear of the threat of sanity. “What will the world think of me if I start including Jesus/God/theology into the conversation?” We start to place weight on the world’s view instead of on the sentiment Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross means for us as individuals, personally. The world condemns and censures, but God loves and forgives, constantly inviting us forward, towards Him. If we don’t place our trust in Him, is our resistance really based on some mistake God made, or are we too proud to admit how lost we are when we try to solve the mystery of life with technicalities and empty rationalizations? The capitulation of curiosity is among the seeds of the death of theology in understanding God after exhausting ourselves by trying to solve the argument against His existence. My point is not all that ambiguous: what reason do we have as a race for distrusting in God? After really pausing to look at the evidence, everything intently points to His genuine love for the human race. If we don’t place our trust on that foundation, where else would we place it? 

BASED ON A TRUE STORY…

I want to share with you a small but profound true story which happened to me years ago.

When I was living in an apartment in Glendale, California, I was about to be bankrupt and I had already been warned of eviction because I couldn’t make rent. My roommate and I arrived home one night after a life group to find the note that is the picture of this blog post, taped to our door. I promise you readers, no one knew that I could not afford rent besides two people: my roommate, and my dad– who I had seen the past two days–and I had been with him the entire time, so he had no chance to put a note on the door, nor get the money through the crack of the doorway so that I would only see the $700 in cash laying on the ground after I opened the door. My roommate was just as shocked as me, and that made it obvious this was clearly God seeing my situation, and responding.

Now, I’m not claiming God wrote the note, I know it was a person–but the miracle and blessing within this story is that someone knew I couldn’t afford rent (when I hadn’t told anyone, nor had my roommate), and no one ever confessed to being the gift-giver. They remain, to this day, and unknown samaritan who helped me at a crucial time without desiring to receive credit for the gift. I cannot tell that person how much I appreciate the gift, and that they were clearly doing God’s work in telling me that “God loves you. He sees you. He’ll never forsake you.” Clearly, this person wanted God have all the credit. To me, that is love of the Father in Heaven, and that is a reason to trust in Him to provide, always. Has that ever happened again since? Nope. And that’s the idea: God doesn’t generally perform a miracle the same way twice; but He always answers every prayer.

WITNESSING GOD AT WORK BEHIND THE SCENES

One last thing to note about my short story–if I had not gotten that money right when I did, and if I would have had to be evicted (possibly along with my roommate if he couldn’t pay it all himself), I would not have been able to get the job that I got within that next month at the school district, and where I stayed for three years working in Special Education with kids with autism and special needs. None of that would have happened! God was speaking into my life through another person, and it was loud and clear that I was not alone in my journey. This isn’t just me, readers–it’s you, too.

I shared this truth with you to let you see how God does work, even in mysterious ways; ways where people are involved, but where they’re not trying to take the spotlight off of God. God uses people to show Himself, because the Holy Spirit is at work in this world through the spirit of believers. The Prince of Darkness (the Devil) may be influencing the world, but the King of all kings (Jesus) is controlling it. That said, whoever wrote that note and provided the money without ever asking for it to be returned or claiming the act was his doing–he was allowing the Holy Spirit to work inside of him. That’s what matters to God, and that’s what counts to someone who needs to experience God’s grace in the form of tangibility that is distinctly God’s hand–only without the skin, bone, or tissue. While God’s physical hand cannot be seen touching us, He is certainly moving, He is most certainly alive; He most certainly exists, and He loves us all. Not everyone might get a note taped to their door, but they are no less loved or seen. He created everything so that we could have relationship with Him and give Him the glory. He loves us so that we have an example of what it means to be loving.

GOD’S REALITY

I understand many of you will likely not appreciate the way that I didn’t explain God’s physical intervention in our lives as an actual touch, but if we aren’t aware that God moves through people and through nature, then we’re missing an important point; He doesn’t touch us in the same sense that humans do because of the point I explained in Part 1: He is outside of our dimensionality, and if He came inside of ours in His physical form, we wouldn’t survive the process. Sin cannot survive the presence of pure, perfect love. Putting faith in the existence of God means knowing that God is with us in our hearts–and through other believers–but that doesn’t mean that we dismiss God just because His body is somewhere else; He is omnipresent, spiritually. That is how we access the Holy Spirit. And unless we put faith into that possibility, we are resisting His love due to of our rebellion, not His non-existence.

We would not need faith if He were here with us, physically, right? He loves you, He sees you, and He will never forsake you. Open your heart, look into the soul of Christ as He is knocking on the door to your heart. Let Him in and show Him around. He wants to be a part of your life. Putting your trust in God is the best decision you could make because of His adamant loyalty. If you don’t understand His loyalty, just look to the stars, He never drops them— they’re held firmly in place; how much much firmly and carefully would He hold your heart, the heart of the peak of His creation? Everything He created, and all that He’s done, is for you– because His love is that deep for you. What will you do with that truth?

MY PRAYER FOR YOU

I hope that you feel His love for you today, and I pray that it inspires you for the better. That is my prayer for each one of you; that you would come to know God’s heart, Jesus’ loyalty, and place confident trust in their means of being for you and giving to you all that you need. May you feel His presence as you continue understanding how to place more trust in God, knowing what He is capable of, what He’s done, and what He will do based on His promises. I urge you to do this with a believer who can encourage you, pray for you and with you, and help you as you ease into this, especially if this concept is new for you. God will meet you where you are, and He will lift you up. He will never leave you standing alone. He’s always watching and waiting for another heart to choose Him over the world. He’s excited to be a part of you. Will you reach out for Him in trust? I hope you will.

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Paving the Path For Trusting God: Part 1

By and by, I feel the need to respond to secularists, atheists, and unbelievers whose questions scrutinize the Bible, its authenticity, and what it calls Christians to believe and live by. After so much skepticism, these people’s questions leave them baffled, silenced, confused, and bitter– their hearts malformed by cultural and societal misunderstandings, resenting the censure of a massive conglomeration seemingly tossing all their eggs into the basket with a dusty old book called the Bible. One of the most powerful questions–even for the Christian, is: Why should I trust God? You see, if we don’t trust God– the Source of all argument for theology, religion, morality, and faith–then we undermine those concepts altogether by claiming the Creator and Causality of such inquisition is scandalous, fake, and too ambiguous to be real, mighty, or supernatural. And if God isn’t who He claims to be– if He is not really with us today– then how can we trust Him with our lives

As a former atheist and current Christian, these questions are poignantly familiar to me, sinking right into home base with my history of disbelief years ago. The mystery of trusting the concept of a God was what instigated my departure from the Catholic church at age 11, when my parents divorced. After that, the mystery of trusting God became the seed for dark humor when I was about 14. The notion that God would do such horrible things–such as allow trauma, suffering, and death–did not match up with the type of loving God people seemed to profess that He was. How do you trust in a God who allows suffering and death? How do you trust in a God you can’t touch with your own hands—scream at while anticipating His reaction with heavy breathing and clenched fists? How do we come to try to understand this dilemma of the misunderstanding of God, and how He fits into the very relationship He calls us to be a part of? First, as I discovered, we must try to understand the context of God.

What is the space He lives in, and how does His presence and existence affect what is around Him? The Bible says God is love:

(1 John: 4:8) “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (italics mine)

The Bible gives an explicit example of the way He physically affects those around Him when anything of His true physical nature is revealed. When Moses came down the mountain after God had passed around Him– Moses’s face was literally glowing from exposure to seeing the backside of God (Exodus 33:18-34:9); not God’s face, no– His back. God warned Moses if he saw His face, He would die:

(Exodus 33:20) “But,” he said, “you cannot see my face. For no one may see me and live.”

If people would not survive witnessing God back in Moses’s day, surely they would not survive the experience today. Why is that? What is the nature of God? He is love. Then what is our nature–human natureWe are sinners.

How do we know we’re sinners? First, we have to define sin. The dictionary defines sin as “an immoral act considered to be a transgression against divine law.” One might think of “divine law” as represented by God’s ten commandments**, others might add that it refers to the Golden Rule (Mark 12:28-34). I refer to sin as the rebellion to, the transgression of, and the deliberate departure from– what God wants with us in our relationship with Him. Rebelling against His love is to resist it, living apart from its blessings.

When we don’t accept His love, many times that can be as simple as not thanking Him for the blessings in our lives (food, apartment/house, job, friends/family, etc.), and likely taking them for granted, rather than lifting them up with thanksgiving and gratefulness. We have a tendency to sometimes assume what we get in life, we just get, without recognizing them as blessings. Even the secularist must admit, however, that finding that random samaritan willing to help fix a flat tire is less likely to be someone who doesn’t believe in random, selfless acts of kindness without getting something in return. People hardly extend themselves without a scoff, sigh, or moan when their desire to do the deed derives their own esteem, or their own conditional supply of grace. Those who extend themselves with a smile on their face have a Source which they pull from, and this Source derives from faith in something bigger than themselves. For many, it’s the karmic belief in what comes around goes around. Others, holding to a more eternal perspective, understand loving others is their way of loving the Creator of existence, time, space, purpose, love, and reason; they extend themselves from the reservoir of faith in that Creator, knowing that He bestows His gift of love on them constantly; in turn, their response is incorrigibly the desire to share that gift with others, which just so happens to be expressed in the form of the contagious attitude reminiscent of the character of Jesus: joyful, graceful, and unconditional.   

**(The Ten Commandments are a set of guidelines meant to help us stay intimately close with God, and in harmony with one another. Many unbelievers regard the ten commandments acrimoniously with repulsion and bitterness. Perhaps the commandments feel like an unnecessary scolding for choices and lifestyles we view as innocuous. The rules of the commandments, for many, don’t seem have any basis other than inconvenience. The question then becomes: Is convenience the way to God? Secondly, if we can explain the difference between our incomplete understanding of the need for the ten commandments, and the reason for which they were originally given–we may come to grasp the truth that the ten commandments are really just lifestyle principles God requested us to instill in our lives in order for us live more fully, not just indulgently. The question which may then arise is: Do we want to be close to a God who wants to feel close to us by providing a fuller life?)

When we resist His love, we are saying one or more of these:

  1. I don’t believe in His love
  2. I don’t need His love
  3. I don’t want His love
  4. I don’t deserve His love
  5. I can’t live up to His love

Resisting what God wants for us–as a fuller life–is to claim we believe God’s intentions are not aligned with the best version of what our life could be, and instead, wresting the control of our futures out from His hands, not seeking His help or involvement. If we can understand this as the reason for the mistake of missing out on our best life, then we can understand the waste and nuisance of denying the power of God, capable and willing to create the entire cosmos for our benefit. But, for those who adhere to denial, God continually reaches out with His love, hoping we’ll surrender our resistance and choose to see His intentions as they are; authentic and rooted in love.

How can the human race put trust in a God we can’t see with our physical eyes, nor touch with our hands? How do we know when or if He hears us–or if He does or doesn’t want to respond when we ask Him a question–or how He feels when we cry out to Him in frustration? Something critical to understand about our relationship to God is the significance of the differentiation between the way we need God, and the way God doesn’t need us. It’s the most beautiful dichotomy really, because God speaks and acts through what could be just as arbitrary to Him as choosing what color underwear to put on is to us: He chooses to love a species which cannot give Him anything other than praise and worship–because He is love. Do you follow me on that train of thought? God is love–meaning–He doesn’t have a limited amount of love to distribute in specific amounts to each component of creation He makes, careful not to run out—no, He IS love, so He has an infinite supply to give from. There are no bounds, no lengths, no limits– no measurements to God’s love. We could never fit God’s love into a math equation because it would break every rule in the book. God’s love is unlimited, permanent, and forever; powerful, unshakeable, incorrigible, and it’s a decision He’s already decided on.

Is it harder or easier to trust in a God, who, despite not needing us for anything–loves us more than all of creation? Does the truth of this explanation change anything in your heart, or help you see God’s love in a different light? God’s love isn’t just comprised of some words in the Bible, His love is real and–yes–tangible. Perhaps not from his hands or arms themselves–but through others; through nature, and through circumstances— God loves us constantly

In Part 2, I will touch on ways we can see God’s love for us through creation, how we can tie that back to trusting in Him, and I will close with an example from my personal life; an explicit example of God’s love for me in my life, and, consequently—proof of God’s for us as a species.

For now, I want to leave you with some questions to ponder for the sake of your own faith journey and spiritual life. When you think of God, how do you feel? Do you feel judgment, disappointment, and frustration? Do you feel as though God only comes to you or answers you when you’re “performing well”? How do you feel God sees you as His child? How do you define the concept of God’s love in your life today, and what prevents His love from making more sense to you than it does right now? What would have to happen to cause you to consider the possibility that God loves you more than you can imagine, and that He wants you to accept that gift and let it transform your life? What is your response to an invitation like that?

May God bless you as you look inside yourself to discover these answers, growing towards freedom from confusion and the entanglement of the lies of the world and the enemy. I’ll see you in Part 2! 

Trust

The Blessing Of the Samaritan In Every Day Life

Genuine, compassionate, kind, thoughtful, pensive, slow-to-speak, quick-to-listen, intuitive, spiritual, loving people– truly inspire me. Can you call to mind the face of the person who that is for you?

I have met these kinds of people before, but they always seems to come in passing–they’re heading that way and I’m heading this way, but for that bittersweet moment we criss-cross, and I experience a personality unlike any other. I must draw you a picture, because this is something you need to see.

Not all people learn to truly, genuinely care. They may say they do, and for specific areas of their life, they do care. But there are some people–we’ll call them samaritans–whose delicate manner in caring for others is done in the same vein as the manner they eat the food that tastes pleasing to them: They simply enjoy it.

Now, don’t confuse the idea of someone “enjoying the experience of caring” with someone who acts as a doormat for attention-seeking individuals without boundaries or respect for others’ feelings and well-being. The samaritans I’m talking about have boundaries, and plenty of self-respect, but they know how to counter someone’s disrespect with concern and compassion. Does this concept surprise you, or even confuse you? Let me draw more of the picture.

Another appreciative quality of the samaritan is their ability to connect with an individual so effortlessly. Eye contact comes so naturally to these kinds of people that we don’t even always realize how their eyes are inviting ours into the conversation. In contrast, there are the people whose eye contact can be interpreted as intrusive or disconcerting. Their eye contact is constant and unmoving; hardly leaving our eyes and barely blinking– if at all. This lack of eye movement altogether, after a minute or two straight, can begin to feel uncomfortable–as if that person is thinking of something else other than what the we’re actually talking about–or leading us to believe the intention behind their listening is different than their concern for us and what we’re saying. The samaritan’s eyes, however, are comforting, gentle, and at ease; relaxed, and very attentive in just the right proportions. In all respects, their eyes–and, therefore, their spirit (our eyes are the key to our soul, no joke)–are present. As we speak, they respond in such a way that feels validating. There is compassion in their eyes, gentleness in their disposition, and space where–for others–there is usually judgment, or a lack of concern or attentiveness. Unmistakably, time rests in a peaceful buoyancy with samaritans; emotions are allowed, welcomed, shared, and ultimately embraced— the very air around them is so weightless and simultaneously full of grace–feeling loved is difficult to ignore, and impossible to resist.

I can recall feeling angry while being heard by a samaritan who simply listened with pursed eyes, following my anger with empathy. By the end, they were nodding in silent agreement with what I’d explained, their eyes slowly blinking and peering into mine with concern and frustration for my situation. This exchange was so emotionally satisfying that I didn’t really care about the frustration of my story anymore, because this person had undermined the anger itself by embracing my hurt and pain with me. I felt validated, like someone was with me in my space of need. They didn’t even have to say anything, and they didn’t give me advice– they simply let me be. That is the underlying gift of wisdom by a samaritan: Their very sagacity in knowing how to listen, when to offer helpful insight, and discerning the difference.

After time spend concentrating on the utilization of those gifts with people, and desiring to better themselves in this regard– listening transcends the problem of being viewed as an obligation or difficult science, and becomes a gift to be shared, cherished, and used with the people we love, care for, and want to be experience life with. The inability to truly listen–to truly share ourselves vulnerably without judgment or further prolonging the feeling of loneliness when, for example, someone responds to a traumatizing story with the “fix”, rather than giving the speaker the precious gift of the quiet solace of presence they actually need instead— is a detrimental problem and schism in human relationships today, and it needs to be addressed with full awareness of its punitive repercussions.

Every person knows what it feels like to not be heard when they vent, how it feels to be ignored or overlooked when in emotional pain, and every person certainly knows what it feels like to believe no one really cares. But a person with the ability to extend themselves in such a way that provides the space for this desired emotional acceptance– this is truly a gift, indeed; that someone would be caring and involved enough in the relationships in their lives to take a deep, introspective look at the way others feel around them when they listen, and to understand–deeply–the way their words have an impact, not only within the context of just one conversation, but within the inflection and motivation behind the words themselves–in any conversation. People who can do this and have devoted quality time to developing this aptitude have acquired more than just skill; they have acquired the ability to be a living vessel of God. Does that last phrase pull your attention away and shock you? Does it seem too much?

God is love, and to be able to provide the space for another person to feel loved by just listening, with only the motivation to give that person that experience in your presence–how is that not being a bridge to God, Himself? You are shining a light directly to Him by doing what He would do. God desires to love us, and in His love for us, the parts of us that are misplaced or distorted and confused become easier to see, and in that process of being exposed to ourselves from God, we can see how the pieces we’ve misplaced through rebellion and selfishness can be put back correctly in their rightful places. God provides that path, and when a person is able to provide the space where God can be seen and felt (although a person isn’t required for this–a person’s personal relationship with Jesus is just as effective), those paths are made very clear. Because of this–specifically–a samaritan’s ability to listen truly exults the love and power of God’s presence in human life.

Why am I sharing this with you? We need more samaritans–it’s simple. And, to be a bit frank, I miss the time spent around people who aren’t in a rush, as if my feelings are less important than the racing speed of the clock. Some people never learn to slow down and live in the moment, and it’s these very people who inspire this post—because we don’t need any of that. We need people who are willing to be still, even momentarily, to give us a moment of their time. Are there times when we simply cannot stop for anything due to inconvenience or responsibility? Of course. But I’m talking about people who begin daydreaming during a conversation, or who are always running around to a destination that doesn’t require their presence with as much emergence as they portend. Stillness speaks; like the spacial quiet during my time with the samaritan when I was angry. Why are people in such dire need to move, to think, to speak, and to act– why not be in need to be still and listen, or just to be? This is a samaritan, and it can be anyone.

It’s more than just the ability to listen, of course. Anyone can learn to listen, but the measure of a samaritan is the depth of their character and the truth of their intention. Without character and intention carefully motivated, a person is far from being a vessel for God. The world needs as much light as it can get to show us back to who we truly are, and God uses us (those who have accepted His love through Christ) to be that example to others who need it. Where are they? Can they be you? Of course. In fact, I hope it is. This world needs samaritans—those who are willing to be what no one else is trying to be. But, who is their motivation?

My hope is that it is God, because every human must have one (samaritan) to be one, and it all starts with the Samaritan who loved us enough to come down here and fix our problem (of sin) for us in the flesh. It’s Him who we strive to emulate by following His Golden Rule, which is and always have been to love (Him with all of our mind, all of our heart, all of our soul, and all of our strength, others as ourselves, and ourselves as God loves us). Are we loving others when we listen? Are we showing others who God is when we let others be themselves, or do we try to fix them when they don’t ask for help? Sometimes, our greatest hope is found in the silence of wisdom. And sometimes that silence can be found with someone providing the space for God to be found. Is that you? Is that who you’d like to be?

Look around you at this world and decide for yourself what you believe it needs. More samaritans, or more people trying to fix everything? Where pragmatism is appreciated, sometimes it is unnecessary. What is always necessary is that we learn to slow down, to listen, and to love. Who are you being for others? Is that the best you can be? God loved us through Christ, and now we are to love others through Christ in us. How are you loving others, and how can you love more?

I urge you to think of this and apply it to your life. Keep in mind the changes you are making to others’ lives with your own. I pray that you become aware of this truth, and that you make Godly changes in your every day interactions, one conversation and one relationship at a time. Let God work through you. There are other samaritans on the way for you as well, God is making sure of it. Be blessed, readers!

Original

Rock Music and Spiritual Awareness

How careful are we with our minds? Do we ever consider how what is received by our eyes and ears directly affects what emanates through our words, actions, thoughts, and lifestyles?

During my adolescence, I found and grew to love the rock band, Korn. To this day, they are my all-time favorite band. Now, perhaps before I go too heavily into explaining this, it would be wise to offer context.

I have written at some length about my traumatization as teen experiencing the pain, drama, and depression associated with the stress of my parents’ divorce, my family’s dismemberment, and the death of two of my grandparents, all within one year. Needless to explain, my self-image and desperation for something meaningful to save my heart from an ultimate downfall was at an all-time high, and I began finding solace in music, first beginning with open ears to a rock band called Godsmack, when I was 12.

For four years I was receptive to the sound of rock, and the anger that was expressed in such music matched my own. I didn’t have to wear a guise with the songs I listened to because they spoke directly into my darkest secrets—especially the rage and depression I was sucked into from the pain and stress of loss, resentment, bitterness, and hating my own existence. My emotional state became so intense that I even put theology in question, pushing the very idea of God off His pedestal and into an uncharted, bottomless pit in my mind where I didn’t have to think about it. Atheism closed in, and my choice was to replace the concept of a loving Messiah with something more seemingly “tangible” than the invisible, questionable theology derived of a two-thousand-year-old history that I had never personally experienced, nor cared to learn about.

When I was 16, I was in the music store at the mall in my hometown when I came across Korn’s album, “The Untouchables”. I found song titles curious, thought the cover was a bit strange—and therefore I was drawn in to discover what sort of music would come from the mirage of ambiguity the disc holder displayed. When I put the disc into my car’s CD player, the very first song, “Here To Stay”, immediately immersed me with raw emotion; this time, the words not only matched my own feelings, they surpassed them. The words were more than just relatable, they spoke for me and to me. I found myself listening to these songs repeatedly with absolute certainty that this band was exactly the music I was looking for. Every day I would listen to Korn and get blown away by the feeling of validation which came from the dark, melodic guitar riffs, heavy bass, and brutal lyrics. They spoke into my darkest pain, eliminating the idea that I was alone, and also replacing–although temporarily–my emotional void needing God.

Years passed by, more Korn albums were released, and sometimes their lyrics would offend me a little (I didn’t appreciate nor resonate with the use of the word “rape”–but I also understood this lyrical style was the Jonathon Davis’s (the lyric-writer and singer of Korn) way of representing horrific emotion and opening up about his own personal traumatizing life events. The offensive portion of lyrics got lost in the background and I continued paying attention to the feeling of validation I received while listening to Korn, and the way the rage within me felt mitigated through someone else adequately speaking for and through my excruciating experiences.

That was my musical input for 5 years. When I became a loose** Christian at 22, I was still listening to Korn and loving it. God was still a foreign concept to me while I began reading the Bible very slowly through a life group at the church I was attending during my college years. I did not feel my heart grasping for Him right away. And I was still lost in my emotional past with the baggage of what had happened to me and my family. “God, if you really exist, how could you let this happen?”, I would ask Him. For a while, there was nothing but silence. I figured that was commensurate for the years of denying Him, like punishment for being so stubborn. Later, I discovered that that was not true at all, but at the time, the explanation made sense.

**(I write “loose” because, though I was attending a Christian church weekly, I had just come from 7 years of atheism, and I was not interested in practicing everything Christianity preached and taught was necessary to grow close to Christ through faith, trust, and surrender–including but not limited to loving myself, because I had hated myself for about 11 years at that point, and when I loved others it was through stoic, gritted teeth and this feeling of self-betrayal. Christianity is freedom from the temptation to live in sin, and I was still very much invested in the guilt of living alone spiritually for so long; blaming God, myself, and my life for being so hard for me. Loving myself, and therefore loving God even more–was more alien and esoteric to me than neuroscience or astrophysics. Therefore, I would now, looking back— have considered myself a loose Christian at that time because I wasn’t practicing my faith in the sense that I am now, both emotionally and spiritually)

My questions from my time spent as an atheist becoming desperate for meaning came to the surface and I began using this as fuel. I figured if God wasn’t real, I’d definitely figure it out because I would find a loophole in the Christian faith and deny it, too. Funny, the bluff I was ready to call on God was eventually called on my disbelief. But, see, through this entire time of loose Christianity and testing the faith before taking it seriously—Korn was my go-to music. They were the band that stood out because they never spoke anything but brutal honesty in their words—the message was always relatable to me in an almost startlingly refreshing way; the way they would speak into my heart and not even have to mention divorce.

Have I been warned about listening to such heavy music? Yes, I have. And I have considered those words. But I want to be absolutely clear about something: We are not what we listen to unless we choose to deify the message of the lyrics, or to worship the rage and the anger rather than the God who allows such music to be relatable, and therefore helpful for those who find it as such. Do I believe God can speak through heavy metal rock music? Absolutely. There’s also other rock bands that I love, one called Red and the other Love and Death; the singer and one of the guitarists of Love Death is actually one of the main guitarist’s of Korn as well, and they are all Christian bands without actually claiming to be a Christian bands. They speak about God without being explicit about Christian faith, allowing the words to speak for themselves without drawing directly into any one faith system. This may consider them “safe” (instead of being cast aside by the secular listeners who don’t want to hear the terms “God” or “Jesus” in lyrics) , but that doesn’t change that they are singing and still praising/praying/talking to God. So their music is still inspiring for me.

Back to my previous point. We are not what we listen to unless we begin to worship those messages instead of the God who provides them. Korn may not be a Christian band (they are not at all Christian–despite how two of its members are), but they speak to me as a Christian. I believe God speaks to me through Korn, yes. Does that sound crazy? I can understand why for those who feel that it might think it to be crazy, because, “how could a band who sings about such dark emotion possibly bring someone back to Jesus?” Well, let’s be careful here. Korn didn’t convert me to Christianity, but listening to them does not deter my faith or make me feel more secular inside. The message and influence of music depends solely on the ears receiving the message, and the softness of the heart accepting the message– or rejecting it. My heart is for Jesus, and Jesus alone. Whatever words offend my faith against Him I rebuke in Jesus name.

Some would argue the safety the mind and heart by advising to simply stay away from anything that is not of God, in order to stay pure and clean in mind and body. I would never argue this point. What I add to that is that for me, it’s entirely possible to hear such heavy rock music with dark lyrics and still praise God and worship Jesus all the same. Can everyone do that? It depends on the context of where you come from. Remember, my childhood trauma led me to need validation. When I converted to Christianity, I realized I only needed Jesus’ love, but that didn’t mean Korn didn’t still resonate with a part of me that God had also touched. I continue to understand to this very day that God can reach me through metal music. In fact, I even wrote a previous blog post while listening to one of their newest singles, “Rotting In Vain”, and the post I wrote was strictly a Christian message. So, while I’m not trying to claim everyone is able to do what I do, what I am explicitly intending to get across is that music is what you make of it; if you are allowing music to influence you the wrong (negative) direction–music isn’t to blame, but your interpretation of what you put in your heart. If the music you listen to is hurting you and/or others, perhaps that is the most tell-all sign that you need to change the musical input you are letting yourself be exposed to.

Korn does not offend me, they still validate me. My experiences in life now are not nearly as traumatic as they were when I was 11, mostly because I am a much more mature adult man with control over myself and my life situation. I didn’t have that when my parents divorced. I was dependent and starving for something meaningful and purposeful to fill me up, but I was simultaneously rejecting God because I blamed the idea of pain on Him.

Interestingly, along my path of conversion from atheism to Christianity, I discovered a fascinating truth: Blaming God for pain and then disbelieving Him–one might think–would cancel out the pain itself by undermining its original cause of understanding. However, my mind didn’t think that way at the time. I basically bluffed myself by saying God didn’t exist, and yet hating pain while claiming if it was done by anyone, “It must have been God.” How could God be in control of the pain in my life if He doesn’t exist? And if He doesn’t exist, how could I be angry at Him for controlling it? If He doesn’t exist, and the pain still does— where does someone like an atheist aim their anger and censure?

You call your own bluff when you cancel out both ends of the equation; one side being God as the cause of pain, and the other that God doesn’t exist. For the atheists who are angry at the world for their pain, how do you separate yourselves from the rest of existence, seemingly claiming your experience of pain is as if no one else has similar experiences–when all humanity is the same species under the same worldly rules and consequences of pain and suffering? Furthermore, placing blame in the neutral position (that is, claiming God didn’t cause pain and that He doesn’t exist) cancels out the causality for any and all pain inflicted (which is insulting to humanity as a whole because there is no denying the existence of pain), either requiring, in effect, to wipe out the idea of pain itself–or the blame for which pain is placed. But the retention of both while claiming disbelief in God is not only irrational–again–it calls your bluff: To rationalize disbelief in God is to claim a worldly replacement for the void pain creates, which consequently would not resolve the problem of pain, nor correctly fix the position of causality towards any viable existential component–but would instead claim that nothing is the cause of pain and that pain must therefore not be a problem to resolve. And anyone who has been alive for more than a few minutes would tell you that notion is absolutely ludicrous.

In saying that, allow me to reiterate: Korn does not offend me, and it does not take me from my faith in Christ– but it is also a reminder that I cannot call God’s existential bluff if I feel angry at Him; therefore, whatever validation I’m receiving through listening to rock music–like Korn–is not validating any hatred toward God (there is no hatred from me towards God), but rather validation towards the discontentment of pain inflicted in life.

To follow through with that thread of thought, one must have a belief in the causality of pain, and if we follow the thread to its source, we culminate with evil, and evil cannot exist without love (not in this world), and love cannot exist without God because love is supernatural; supernatural being the very DNA of love—the DNA of God. God exhales the supernatural because He is the Source of all creation: One or multi-dimensional, tangible or intangible; spiritual or physical, metaphorical or literal. He is the Source of it all. Love would be impossible and nonexistent without God.

How does a person without faith in the supernatural even explain love? That might be a great idea for another blog post. For now, I will leave you with the understanding that if we choose to accept the existence of love, we must express faith in the existence of evil, because one does not exist without the other in this world. They are dichotomies which lead us back to the causality of existence itself, where the spiritual world unfolds in-between the choice to follow love or to follow evil—where evil breeds corruption while love engenders growth, change, opportunity, freedom, joy, and relationship. Without one or the other, the lack of comparison to argue the schism would eliminate the equal sign of our life equation and cancel out the equation of their existence altogether–again–eliminating both God and pain, which is impossible to construe based on all of life, history, and experience expressing otherwise.

Love cannot be without evil (or hate) to counter its personality and reason to exist, and evil cannot exist without love to counter its immorally corruptive fallacies. God is the instigator of existence, and simultaneously the mediator between both worlds: love and hate (evil); spiritual and physical. To claim one doesn’t exist means neither exist, but that is preposterous. Concordantly, to claim they both exist automatically opens the door to morality and theology, the source of opening the conversation for God and Christ. And if we open the case for Christ, there is no closing that conversation because the opening to that conversation would mean the elimination of our denial in admitting love and hate are two dichotomies requiring us to choose between God, or death. We cannot face this conundrum and simultaneously deny God. God’s face is the all-dimensional face of both worlds, where Jesus invites us into the light and the Devil tries dragging us back to darkness, all the while we’d rather claim there is no tug of war at all–but that is rubbish if you still want to try arguing the belief in the existence of morality without theology, especially arguing the dissension between faith and non-theism regarding purpose and meaning.

Coming full circle, I find Korn as a means of expressing myself, but I would never, for example, use Korn to worship at church. They do not deify Jesus as Lord. But I can listen to them without claiming Jesus is not Lord in my heart, and still appreciate their gift in melodic hard rock music. This means I can believe in love and hate (evil), the existence of morality (good/bad, right/wrong) and still appreciate music when it clearly does not exult the faith which I wholeheartedly put all of my faith into. Korn can be a translator of my rawest, deepest emotions, while my heart persistently and adamantly praises the goodness of Christ as my God and Messiah. Hard rock music is not evil unless you worship its message instead of the one who allows you to listen to it. The dark combinations of angry music do not have to trespass our moral compass unless we give it the keys to do so. Our ability to know who to turn to with decisions and life problems is a choice based on spiritual maturity, and if listening to angry music turns you away from belief in common sense and morality/theology, then perhaps you need to consider the truth that that kind of music is harming you. If you can listen to it and feel validated while still believing in God and worshipping Jesus as Lord over your heart, you have successfully separated the message and sound of the music from the faith in your heart, differentiating between music and worship; appreciation and deification.

What music do you listen to? Does it bring you hope, validation, faith in the good of what’s to come—or does it bring out your rage and make you feel more hopeless inside? Are you an agnostic, questioning whether or not you believe in what you think you do—and if so, does your music help you through the maze of your heart, or is it blurring the line of  clarity between your emotions and faith? What do you think is better for you and your mental/spiritual health? Does music create a bridge from one side of yourself to another, or does it close the door and make you feel trapped? Be honest with yourself. Where do you feel your music is leading your heart?

If your music is hurting your ability to have faith in God, I strongly urge to you consider what changes would help you walk away from that separation between you and your faith life. I spent 7 years hating religion, and distancing myself completely from any theology. Faith in Christ is different from religion. Perhaps I can delve further into that in another post. Feel free to comment below on ideas you’d like touched upon. I’d be happy to write about topics you would like to understand better. For now, please consider what music is doing to your heart, be careful with what you feed your mind with, and revise as necessary until you feel liberated from the temptation of emotion to hold you hostage from faith life.

My conversion from atheism to Christianity is the best decision I’ve ever made, and I urge you to discover what that Truth means for you.

Careful