Another example of how I am slowly learning his pleasure and favor towards me.
It’s the rallying cry of our generation. Be true to our personalities. Stay in our natural grooves. Stick to our comfort zones. Whatever you’d like to call it. We trade this mantra like a recipe, a handy formula for success in personal interactions, handling of money, dating, choice of college major, what have you. Feels pretty affirming.
This last weekend, I was myself. I made a joke at someone else’s expense. It was an outgrowth of my teasing sense of humor, and it wasn’t taken well. I apologized, but you can bet that “myself” didn’t look so appealing to me in hindsight, which is always 20/20.
Just how much sin do we keep under the umbrella of “being ourselves”?
Really good point. Along the same lines, this.
Happy Valentine’s Day, my favorite day of the year.
I remember as a kid decorating a shoebox and excited for it be filled with paper hearts. Yep, I am the biggest hopeless romantic. Just ask me how many Rom-Com DVDs I have in my collection, I dare you.
On Valentine’s Day, I am confident of this one certainty: true love does exist. It is extremely rare but oh, so, spectacular. I received my first lesson in love from the 1974 movie adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Robert Redford, need I say more. My heart was swayed at the mere age of seven.
“He knew when he kissed this girl… his mind would never romp again…” Gatsby has ruined me.
But honestly, I wasn’t feeling it this year. Don’t know why…
My shoebox was empty and so was my heart.
But then…I came across a…
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In what seems to me sometimes like a cosmic joke, a person’s life is often boiled down to a sequence of numbers – two dates with a dash between them.
The first is the date of our birth. Its arrival every year is an occasion for joy, for gifts, or perhaps just a little extra attention. We’re familiar with it. We write it on official documents. It’s a friend to us, right down to the whole “absence makes the heart grow fonder” thing – the further we get, the worse we feel.
The other, the day of our death, is unknown to us. It lurks in the future, possibly fifty years from now, possibly this very day. We will, by definition, never write it down. By the time it’s known, we can do nothing about it. It evokes loss, shadow, looking back and evaluating, the arranging of one’s affairs and moving on.
At least it does for “the rest of mankind, who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13).
But this last week, a friend of mine passed (expected), and the words used to describe her passing were, “She met Jesus!”
My friend escaped. She got out. She finally leaped beyond the reach of this world’s grime and reached Jesus.
And it hit me:
“Although I left Christianity over 20 years ago, it took a long while for me to erase the doctrines that had been embedded within my consciousness for 15+ years. Learning how and why certain doctrines of the Christian faith (e.g., final judgment, burning fires of hell, Satan and his demons, the end-times) were introduced into the faith was extremely liberating … and removed a ton of guilt and fear.”
This individual* could be speaking for much of society.
Our entertainment culture is embroiled in a race to paint Christianity as evil. And it’s got ammunition.
From Carrie to The Shape of Water, from Handmaid’s Tale to Family Guy, Christian faith is portrayed in modern media as a heartless and oppressive force in people’s lives, gone wild to the point of ostracizing, dehumanizing, handcuffing, and even killing in the name of God. Such excesses are so normative in TV and film, in fact, that I can’t remember the last time Hollywood filmed a church as a positive force, or even as a neutral one.
Yet there’s no doubt that such tragic systems have existed, and still do.
Some people have gone through it and escaped. Their testimonies poison our reputation. Christianity is seen as an agent of guilt, an imposer of shame that can only be removed by – I don’t know, what do they claim that churches are selling as a solution? Submitting to the system? Staying in church? Ceasing to dance or have fun? Accepting doctrine? It’s never really made clear.
That horrifying, cringe-inducing, hateful, joy-sucking, monolithic wrecking ball of a word that so many have come to fear, that evokes structure and hate and frowny-faced elders in suspenders beating you upside the head with a Bible.
Doctrine actually tells a different story entirely.
Christianity is not a faith of guilt and fear, but of forgiveness, freedom and joy…and it is doctrine that tells us that.
Did I mention I have a brother who blogs? Yeah, I have a brother who blogs. And in this case, he makes a profound assertion in how God goes about giving us heart’s desires.
Note: This post’s first half is tongue-in-cheek, folks. If we can’t have a sense of humor in the comments section, I’ll be throwing penalty flags on you. Because heaven knows they won’t be thrown on the Patriots.
I personally suspect that it might be amongst the lowest-rated Super Bowls in NFL history. I’m writing this several hours before kickoff, so I don’t know if this prediction is true as you’re reading this. But it’s my guess.
And not just because of this year’s well-intended but broad and self-defeating player protests, though that’s part of it.
No, it’s because it’s the Patriots.