Why Conviction Isn’t Enough

Walking in the Spirit Conviction

I’m finding more and more people living “According to their Conviction” these days. It seems to be the new phrase that has replaced “I’m free in Christ” or at least, become a matching phrase meaning the essentially same thing. Many people live according to conviction.  This is good, as we are free in Christ to live apart from sin. We are to be free from this sin, not to desire things which are unlawful, and yet also not live with a spirit of legalism. The one extreme “I can do anything I want” to the other extreme “I must still keep the Torah to be clean” are flawed mindsets which must be overcome if we are to properly live walking in the Spirit.

Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.” So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free. Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.  ~Galatians 4&5~

So often in our lives though we mix up, or at least do not properly reconcile, what it means to live according to the “Conviction of the Spirit” Paul speaks of in Romans and Galatians. There are clear evidences of what living according to your heart’s desires looks like. There are also clear evidences of what Spirit given Conviction looks like. What we must not do, is be deceived into thinking our sinful heart’s desires are biblical convictions given by the Holy Spirit.

For if we mix the Spirit’s conviction with our heart’s desire, then we will stray into sin over and over. Because we all know, the heart is incredibly deceitful. 

What are the evidences then? How can we be sure that we are walking that straight and narrow path of honoring Christ with our whole being? Well, one reason I love Paul, is he was a list guy. Like me. In the book of Galatians he outlines in detail, what evidences of the spirit and heart (flesh) look like.

Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions,factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I tell you about these things in advance—as I told you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit. 

Honestly, the evidences are quite clear. One I think is the most prevalent or at least, see most often, is selfish ambitions. Selfishness can be contrived and drawn up in many different ways to look like it is in fact, not so. Which takes us back to the core of ourselves- what does the heart look like? Is it meek and submissive? Is it selfless and honoring to others? We can only truly know our hearts when we line up our actions and true desires with scripture’s standards.

Which brings me to the last bit of this post… What are our standards? What does it mean to live according to conviction by the spirit practically? Remember that passage when the Priests came and questioned Jesus? (paraphrasing here) They asked Him incredibly insincerely  “Great teacher, what is the greatest commandment?” to which Christ replied brilliantly, per usual, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and strength. The second is like it- love your neighbor as yourself. Upon these rest the rest of the Law.” There, in plain black and white, is our standard. Is what we are doing in Love of the Lord, AND in Love of all others. It is such a simple, yet quite challenging truth. If what we are doing is out of a genuine Love for the Lord first, then others. You will be following the commandments the Lord has set in place.

Finally, here’s the bottom line I’ve concluded about this topic- If a conviction does not align with greatest commandments, you’re doing it wrong. And that wrongness should be changed- not based on what feels right, but what is known to be true. Then, and only then, will one be able to live according to the convictions Paul speaks of over and over. Convictions serving not the flesh, but the Spirit, glorifying Christ.

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I’m More Important Than a Lily (Woot!)

This past weekend I moved. Moved for the first time in my life to a brand new city, with no set in stone place to stay. Crazy you might think, but I had three solid apartments to look at and choose from moving up, so figured one would work just fine. Right?

Wrong.

One the drive up, one place was removed before we even arrived at the location. The other ones were eventually declined due to lack of enough financial records… So there I was, ready to move into a new place thanks to an amazing new job with Chick-fil-A and no place to stay.

I was a little stressed. Actually… A lot stressed. See, I don’t like it when my plans don’t go according to plan. I especially don’t like it when a place of residence is involved. I did not handle it well honestly. I was grumpy, shut down, and pretty much had no idea what I was supposed to do. Other places were turning me down because of the same financial status… (No Credit score at all… as I live with cash) So my frustration was mounting. I remember praying frustratedly for wisdom, patience, and peace… but also asking why I was being punished for wise fiscal choices? Per usual, I thought the locations I knew of were best for immediate move in… but clearly, I was wrong.

So I was sleeping on a couch for a few days, and finally decided a few days to go look again. So I called my relator, looked up some places online, and just started driving around to these places I had lined up. The locations we looked at were nice, and great options, but something just told me that I should keep looking. So look we did, all day at a total of four apartments. We decided to turn in an application to one, since I had no other choice. After all of this, I decided to look at one place which said they had a studio right in my budget, but was a few days old… so probably not available anymore. Also, as nice as it looked, they’d probably want a credit check… which meant I wouldn’t be approved.

All this going through my mind, I went in and well… The place was perfect. It was still available, had everything I was looking for, and also right within my budget. It was close to the CFA where I would be working… all of it- perfect. I applied right then and there, and miraculously, I was approved on the spot. After talking to my parents for confirmation in this being a wise decision, I placed a deposit and would be able to move in a month’s time.

Looking back, hindsight is always 20/20. However, I praise the Lord for working His hand in a way which moved me to just the right spot He had for me. I still forget all the time that He’s got me like a Dad has His son’s hand when crossing the street. Like a Shepherd guiding His sheep. All to often we have to be taught over and over lessons we’ve already been shown. God will always provide for His adopted what we need, in His time.

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

~Matthew 6~

Christianity, Nudity, & Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones Wallpaper

Content Warning: The following post contains much material that deals with nudity, sexuality, and other mature themes. While I believe I’ve presented such material in a tasteful, rather than graphic, manner, be aware this post is certainly not the typical “G” rating that I strive towards in my writings. 

Games of Thrones. There may not be a hotter topic of discussion regarding TV shows among Christian circles. If you are out of the TV-Show loop, Game of Thrones has been described by Kit Harrington (an actor of the series) as “It is a beautifully crafted epic Fantasy. With plenty of raucous sex thrown in.”  Epic fantasy, raucous sex, not even mentioning the violence that exceeds the “R” rating scale (if that is possible.) What more could you ask for? Content aside, many Christians I know watch this series mainly for the given reason; “The story is incredible!” While the Game of Thrones yarn may be a good one, it amazes me how many professing followers of Christ watch, and even go as far as to promote, this series even with the inexcusable content it contains. The fact is that Game of Thrones shows vile immoral sex and deplorable nudity and consequently, the people who watch the series develop an insatiable lust for more and more of the show.

Here’s the deal though. Game of Thrones isn’t the problem. HBO isn’t the problem. It is much much deeper than one series which will be over in a few years. The problem is a complete moral disconnect from what we watch on TV. We view people without clothes, and, as Christians, we think this acceptable? I observe many Christians have no qualms with nudity in movies and television. They justify it by playing the legalism card, saying it does not affect them, and even go so far as to compare it to the stories of the Old Testament (thereby making it okay.)

These attempts at justification are disturbingly naive or indignantly ignorant. In either case, let’s unpack this sensitive, albeit crucial topic. For if we do not draw our line at viewing nudity and the promiscuous acts which often go along with it, then where is that line drawn?

Why Not Nudity?

In order to actually begin to dwell upon this topic, we have to first ask ourselves; “Is there anything wrong with public nudity?” I mean, God created us, our souls, and our bodies. He created Adam and Eve without clothes too. Surely it isn’t that bad. Actually, it is that bad, and we are given a moral law to abstain from viewing people in the nude. This is of course wrong, given the context outside of marriage.

When Adam and Eve sinned against God, their eyes were opened because of that sin. They had lost their perfect innocence and what was the first thing they realized? They were naked and they were ashamed. Public nakedness after the fall has always been shown in Scripture as shameful and demeaning. God also gives commands various times in the Old and New Testaments that, if someone lacks clothing, we should cover him. God set this standard by clothing Adam and Eve.

Digging even deeper, We see, in Job 31, an example where even gazing at a young woman (other translations use “virgin”) would break his holy covenant with his eyes. In Habakkuk  2, there is condemnation in looking upon people who are without clothes. Ham looked upon (an intentional look) the nakedness of his father Noah, and was cursed. Our reaction to nudity should not be even a passive gaze- even that has been declared as sin by God. But rather an active covering. Following the example God has given us.

So you don’t like the Old Testament verses. You’re free in Christ. I get that; I am too, in fact. Here’s the deal though; Christ did not abolish God’s moral Law. He fulfilled it and commanded us to have “not even a hint of sexual immorality among you.” Romans 1 sets a great example of how dangerous it is to, instead of getting as far away as possible from a potential sin, see how close to the edge one can get.

Obviously, I fail at this; everyone does. That does not excuse us from intentionally viewing such immorality with our eyes when you know it will be shown again, and again, and again … Sexual immorality is not just sex. It is thoughts, lusts, and the viewing of nakedness. If it is not so wrong to watch nudity on TV, what is wrong with going to a strip club on the weekend? The input is the same- sinful on all counts. TV just throws in a story to make it more entertaining and give people justification.

The Big Excuse

So you’re still with me so far; still reading at least. I’m sure some of you are thinking this:

Austin, viewing nudity doesn’t cause me to have lustful thoughts about those people. It doesn’t affect or bother me. Paul says meat for some is sinful, and for others it isn’t. It depends on your conscience and is a matter of conviction. I simply don’t struggle with it.

Okay, I’ll take you at your word, as I can’t judge the heart. Say viewing promiscuous sex, shameful nudity, and the like does not conjure up in your mind lustful thoughts. On the one hand, the Bible is clear, since the fall of Adam and Eve, nudity was, and is meant to be associated with sexuality (which is good in proper context.) On the other, viewing such things causes no apparent lustful or sexual thoughts to enter your mind.

When our God-given natures do not line up with our personal declared moralities, we have a problem, and a big one at that. God has put into us sexuality. In the the proper context of marriage, we are told and shown it to be a great thing in Scripture. We are not called however, to let our sexuality be reduced to the state of neutrality of a desensitized state. No one is just naturally immune to the pull of sexuality. In this day and culture though, people have been so steeped in it, that many have lost the natural desire and appreciation for our sexual natures that God has created in us to partake in. How sad it is that this gift of God has been viewed and abused to a point of where one, even a professing Christian, can look at and watch a person in the full nude, and go “meh”, and feel nothing.

That isn’t personal conviction- that isn’t even self control. That is a soul that is so desensitized and is living with a heart so deceived, that it has become sexually neutered in the mind. Have we forgotten that our heart is deceitful above all things? That we are to flee any kind of sexual immorality, instead of trying to reason through it by ourselves? It truly pains me to see so many Christians failing to understand the glory of what God has created. Continuing in this, sexuality will lose the precious meaning that was originally intended.

A Call to Accountability

So, where am I going with this? Essentially, I believe we need to continue to proclaim to all, but especially our brothers and sisters in Christ, to pray about what we watch. Notice, I didn’t say think. We as humans can reason out of any situation if we let our minds justify enough. Especially in this case of media, we need to be vigilant in asking, “Is what I am viewing sinful?

While many aspects in films can be discussed, and I believe do apply to the illustration that Paul gives regarding meat; nudity and sex are not one of them. It isn’t faked, and to look on it is sin. We need to start asking those good questions to one another in a sincere and loving way. Asking about the “why” they watch such sinful content and if they know what Scripture says about it. I’m not perfect in this area, I’ve seen things which I wish I could take back, take Braveheart for instance, and the most recent X-men (which I’ll be reviewing shortly). Those viewings are from a lack of pre-reading diligence, but are in no way excusable. Even accidental viewings are to be repented of- we are still responsible for those. I am still responsible for those.

We are also responsible for keeping each other accountable in Christlike love. Starting from the spot where we all acknowledge we all have struggles, and we are all struggling together to walk in a manner glorifying to Christ. Game Of Thrones has no place in that walk. Nudity has no place in that walk. Therefore, let’s work together to call those stumbling in these areas to get back on their feet. This proclamation will certainly come with ridicule, being called legalistic, intolerant, or even losing friendships. Through Prayer and loving concern though, we can successfully work towards this reality. One step at a time, because our victory is in Christ, and he has already won.

What Do You Want In Life?

 Bread of Life

I was reading a passage of scripture the other day, just really browsing the gospels like I usually do in my time of study. Reading bits and pieces, and came across this well known tale. I decided to read it again, and a revelation struck me which I wanted to share with you.

A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” 8 For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.
Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?”
Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.”

From John 4

This, while just one of the rich stories of John, stood out to me while reading it like it never had before. I knew the setting, the backstory, the reason the woman was there all alone… etc. etc. I imagine if you like me- a Christian having been steeped in bible stories like this for years, the shiny newness of these tales has a propensity to wear off. This is unfortunate for us, and if we aren’t careful can create a feeling of boredom while going through a passage. I certainly know I’ve been guilty of that.

Anyway, this passage struck me in a new way this time. Because I didn’t so much look at the setting, but rather analyzed the speech. It is clear Christ is speaking spiritually, while the woman is speaking physically. She’s like “Give me this water so I don’t have to come to the well anymore!” Not having to do this would save her the shame of being reminded she is an outcast due to divorce, and that she would not have to endanger herself every time she needed water. In short, a never ending supply of water meant safety and a life of ease.  That’s what she wanted. At first.

Christ redirected her though and clarified what he was saying in a way only the Son of God could. Incredibly, she understands and goes into the city immediately to tell others about Him. Her wants were satisfied in the true Living Water, which is of course Christ. How often do we want what that woman wanted. Easy living, a safe environment (physically and emotionally), acceptance among peers… We all have wanted those things. It made me ask, do I want Christ? I’ll ask you the same…

Do you want Christ?

Because I’ll be honest here. I say “I want Christ” but then in my mind add “And some comfort along with a side of success.” I’m sure we all speak “Yes! I want Christ!” but so often that statement comes with unspoken qualifications and concerns. At least the woman at the well was up front in what she wanted… ;)

I guess what I’m trying to say, and what I took away from the passage, was this- If you want Christ, with all of your being, you’ll want for nothing. Not to say that desires for stuff, relationships, success, etc will cease. No. They won’t, because in the right place, these are good things! What I mean is, when you want Christ, when you are sustained and fulfilled by His purpose, His sustenance, and His life, all that other stuff will just be frosting on the cake.

So, as you go throughout your day and this week, I’d encourage you to figure out what you truly want in life. Is it Christ? Or is it something else?

Commercialized Love- American Edition.

Annual-Obligation

The following post contains immense amounts of sarcasm.
Proceed with caution.

Ah, Valentine’s Day. That special day where you give a special someone a special gift to make them feel especially loved. Nothing says “I love you” like being randomly and spontaneously romantic on a pre-determined National Holiday of romantic demonstration. Nothing says “I love you” like giving a box of unhealthy fattening substances in the not so similar shape of a vital organ. Brings a new definition to “Eat your heart out?”, doesn’t it?

Call me an eeyore, cynical, or just a plain scrooge, but America’s celebration of love on Valentine’s is about as artificial as flavors found in Fruit Loops. Love isn’t even advertised to be celebrated through achievements, experiences, or struggles. Rather it is done through chocolates, fancy meals, and overpriced flowers(Nothing Says “I love you” like killing beautiful flowers, shoving them inside a vase where they slowly die of malnourishment, which results in rotten vegetation less than a week later. ) That’s not a confirmation of love, that’s a bribe of affection. 

What irks me most isn’t the misunderstanding about what love is- we’ve seen that messed up for years now. Valentine’s day preys on every person’s inmost fear- the fear of rejection. Whether we see someone alone, married, or dating there root message, and fear, is the same: “This person may not really love you… they need to buy you gifts to prove it!” Gifts don’t take away that fear though, because that isn’t real, perfect love.

Perfect love casts out fear. I’ve said it before and again, because it is worth saying. Having a day to celebrate love, based on fear, simply doesn’t work. Unfortunately, that’s what an American Valentine’s Day has come to represent. Every scenario in this holiday has the other questioning the motive. No present = They are not thoughtful. Regular Present= Ordinary view of me. Big Present = Do they think they have to buy my love?!… The list goes on.

Now I’m not against the principle of Valentine’s Day- that is, to celebrate the gift God has given us called “Love”. I’m simply against how our society approaches it. I’m all for showing that you love someone more than usual during certain times… but not because Society says “This is the day to do it“. If your faith and love in someone is shaken because they didn’t get you the right thing this V-Day… Maybe, just maybe, the gift isn’t the problem.

Or, I could be completely off base and not realize that large boxes of chocolates and dozens of flowers do indeed solve all of life’s relationship problems.

What do you think?

Flashback: The Bike Ride of Lake Salateeska

LakeSalla

Summer Camp. One of the first places you spend long periods of time away from your parents. The place of bad cafeteria food, Cabin Leaders, and memories which stick with you the rest of your life. Lake Sallateeska was a summer camp I went to as a young boy. I would go with my RA group (a bunch of guys) for a week there. We would have bible studies, do activities, and make general mischief as well.

There are many stories which came from this camp. The time we chased a cabin leader around with a snake… The time a guy intentionally set off a fire alarm… The time where cabin cleanup turned into cabin mess-up… The time where a kid caught a 30lb carp (meant to clean the lake- not be caught)… The time where if you paid $1, you could have your head shaved… The kid who could open soda cans with his teeth… The time a kid was stranded in a canoe because he dropped his paddle into the lake (that was funny)… Late nights of Spades, Indian Leg Wrestling, Pizza, and songs… The list goes on and on.

While most of these memories are rather… lacking in maturity value, they provide great laughs and fond memories of being with guys just having good clean fun (ahem, for the most part). Regardless, there is one event which we did each year that holds particular value in my mind. On a certain morning of the week, a group of guys would go on a bike ride. 30 miles to a cool old convenience store, then 30 miles back. Now, for a older person, this wouldn’t be a challenge at all. For a kid in grade school… It was a bit more difficult. Immensely difficult actually.

The first year I went and did the bike ride, I didn’t think I was going to make it. I lagged behind the whole trip, and by the end pulling back into camp- could barely walk. There was a reason for this though. I didn’t use the gears. In case you didn’t know, gears on a bike can be changed based on the incline and terrain of the ground you’re riding on. I was told, after the ride, that gears can save you immense amounts of energy, because you’re using the bike power, instead of your own power.

Well, I tucked this information away so I could use for next year. Sure enough, time rolled around and the bike ride came up again. The first half of the trip, I was still pretty bad. Why? Because I wouldn’t stop changing the gears. I’d flip them high, then low, then middle… I was trying to figure out what worked best, and not really waiting to see what worked and what didn’t.

We stopped for a break, and the leader biker spun his tire. It was a bike in the same class as ones from tour de france, so for 20 min we watched it spin and spin and spin…. Then I remember him saying “You know what I like most about bike riding? It isn’t a struggle. You’ve got ups and downs… Dirt and Gravel… But if you’ve got a good bike under you- and you trust it to do the work, the ride may be tricky, but always manageable. Kinda like life.”

My first thought was “I need a better bike.” That wasn’t the case though. Keeping what the leader said in mind, I did my best not to fight the bike. Instead of changing gears every 30 seconds, I waited for as long as 20 minutes before adjusting. As I did this, I learned that low gears are good for the ups, and high gears are good for the downs. I was beginning to understand, and therefore trust my bike. When we headed back, because of my new understanding, I was able to finish the ride with the front group, and my legs didn’t hurt hardly at all. Sure, I was tired, but not exhausted to the point of not being able to walk or move a few hours afterward.

Upon reflection later that night, I learned from the leader that our walk with Christ is very similar to that bike ride we take every year. The harder we try to make Christ fit into how we think is best on our race, the more tired we will become. Some might even give up, like some did on the ride. However, the more we understand and trust Him, the easier our travel becomes. Not because the terrain has gotten easier, but we know more fully how to approach it. This is perhaps the greatest lesson I took away from this summer camp all my years of attending. Who would have thought it would have come from something as simple as a bike ride?

Please, Don’t Act Extraordinary

Image Source: weest.org
Image Source: weest.org

Ah the incredible and extraordinary things in this world- The Great Blue Hole in Belize with a 400 foot drop into the earth, The Redwood Forest in California with trees reaching ages of over 2,000 years, and many other places. There are countless insects, birds, and reptiles which we go look at having extraordinary features and abilities. We can look at space and ponder the wonders of a black hole, or imagine the size of of the universe in which we live.

But without doubt, the most extraordinary thing in all of creation, is the only thing God called “very good”. That is, man.  Creation just is extraordinary. According to my understanding, it doesn’t try to be better or more impressive- it just exists. Man however, is the sole creation which has the potential to better himself spiritually and relationally with eternal value. Some of the time however, all that is done is a well played act.

An Extraordinary Standard

Being extraordinary is all based upon a standard. This standard can rise and fall with society, personal values, or even new records/rules. These days, it is so easy to look extraordinary by doing what you are supposed to in work, school, or at church. Basic expectations like getting good grades, showing up on time, or memorizing a bible verse make one look like an extraordinary person…

When in reality, that’s not extraordinary at all. That’s just acting enough above society’s expectation mark, that one stands out and looks impressive. We’ve all been in that boat. In those situations, we aren’t being extraordinary. We are acting for society.  It is so easy to go a little above the bare minimum, look amazing to others, and sit there on our pedestal. Why do we do this? Why do we limit ourselves to what is expected and a little bit more?

I would say, because we have a faulty standard… or we are lazy. Anyone can act extraordinary, not many be and do extraordinary.

Being… Not Acting

Being extraordinary means going above and beyond the call, according to scripture. It takes work, exertion, and struggle. We have to find a standard which is uncompromising and unchanging. Believe it or not, that standard comes from the one who created the person desiring to be extraordinary. It is clear and simple- Whatever you do, Do it for the Lord- not for man. Don’t play the act of doing a just a little above the call, go above and beyond to your limit!

When you constantly do this, keeping your heart in doing it for the Lord, I’d venture to say not only will you truly be an extraordinary person being worked through by the Holy Spirit… But you will also see some pretty extraordinary fruit as well. It isn’t easy to be sure, but as will all things- those worth pursuing are often the most difficult, and most rewarding.

Boredom is a Choice

boredom
Source: John Slater/Getty Images

We’ve all heard it before haven’t we? We’ve all used the phrase in the past too right? That short, simple little collection of words expressing our uninterested view of the world…

I’m bored.

While on the surface this can statement appear to be a simple lack of ingenuity, it is in fact a much deeper statement than most ever consider. It is a comment which is demanding of others, detrimental to self, and disgraceful to the God we serve. It is a very serious phrase which I hope you will join me in exploring through this post, complete with alliteration. ;)

The Demands of Boredom

A statement of boredom is not just a FYI or news broadcast, deep down, it is a demand. A demand for entertainment. A demand for interest. A demand for investment of something other than what one is doing at that current time. One is saying “You there, I’m bored, entertain me.” It is selfish and focused entirely upon what that one person wants (and is) at that point in time.  Boredom isn’t Christ focused, it is self focused, and the demanding nature of the mindset is one of the most visible effects of the act.

The Detriments of Boredom

Boredom may also appear in the form of self detriment. Often I’ve seen people say “I’m bored” but not really want to do anything about it. Rather, they are content to just live in their own apathetic and brain-dead state. Wasting their life and time on being bored. Let me be clear- being still for the purpose of spiritual renewal is MUCH different from being bored. So please don’t misunderstand when I say the nothingness of boredom is a detrimental cause. Doing nothing, simply for the purpose of doing nothing, is flawed- as we are not being good stewards of the life we are given. Rather, boredom is contentedness in regressive natures. It does not improve yourself, produce any fruit of benefit, nor does it set you up for success.

The Disgracefulness of Boredom

Perhaps the most reviling fact of boredom however, is not the negative effects it has on others or yourself, but the actions which are a disgrace to God. When you tell yourself, or others you are bored, you’re saying that you don’t have any interest in the life God has given you. That you don’t value the day you have or the life you are living. Considering every moment of life is a gift from God, to me, this is an incredibly serious offense. We may not even have tomorrow to live, and one is spending the time they have now being bored? What does that fruit of boredom say about that person’s heart? We need to always be intentional about the way we spend out time, and being bored is one of the biggest wastes of God’s time out there.

The Destruction of Boredom

It is always easy to point out negatives, while all the more challenging to provide solutions. I and my family combat boredom several ways. How to destroy it completely? That is based on and left up to your own choice. However, when I am feeling like I have nothing to do (not often, but it does happen ;) ) and am starting to feel that feeling of “bored” come on, one of the best solutions is to read. Read scripture if you’ve read all the books in your house. We can never get enough of the bible.

Other great ways to destroy boredom is, if you are tired, to be intentionally still, and know that God is God. This can be through prayer, silent worship, etc. Boredom often comes when we are most tired, which means we need to be still anyway. ;)

We always have a choice in whether to feel and be bored. We also have a choice or to do something productive with your time. God has blessed us with every minute of everyday. Let’s not disgrace that blessing by wasting it being bored, instead let’s use the time to grow in our walk or simple rest in His knowledge. Either way, the choice is ours, and I am of the opinion that boredom is not the best choice we can make. What do you think?

Sorry, but I’m not Sorry

Sorry-Im-Not-Sorry-Themeside

There are two great phrases in our society that in someway, as supposed to relieve us of all responsibility of what we just said. “Just Saying” and “I’m Sorry but…” While the first I’ve yet to understand the purpose, even though I use it myself, it has become apparent to me that “I’m sorry but…” is just not sincere anymore.

I’m sure you’ve seen the posts, and heard statements. “I’m sorry, but I just had to post this song even though it may not be the best to listen to.” “I’m sorry  for all the pics, but there are so many good ones!” Or how about in speech, “I’m sorry I ate yours, but it was good!” I’m sure we could make the example list a mile long, but I am assuming you are getting the idea. ;)

I do this just as much as anyone today, so don’t think I’m proceeding on a pretense of having my speech perfect. No, I’m sharing observations today on a habit I think worthy of removing from communication with others. What does it truly mean to be sorry? According to Webster, it is to “feel sorrow, regret, or penitence.” Now, to be clear, being sorry is not the same of being repentant.

You can be sorry all day long, but never improve or change. Therin lies the problem.

If we were truly sorry about something, truly felt sorrow saying something, I’d venture to say we would in fact not say it at all. However. We aren’t really upset or sad, we just want to keep ourselves out of trouble, so we use a word associated with regret, even though we don’t mean it. We have, in one sense, so corrupted this word, the contextual meaning has been lost. Sorry used to convey a genuine apology. It meant “I apologize for the offense against you.”, but not anymore. Honestly though, the true problem does not lie in the changed meaning of a word, but rather, something more serious.

The problem, lies at the heart of repentance. 

Based on reading of  scripture, I have found that repentance does not come of its own accord. It comes with a two fold heart that is truly sorry for the actions it commits, and the spirit working through the person to  feel that sorrow and then change their actions for the better. This can also be called the process of “Sanctification”. In the world, true repentance is nonexistent. Is it any wonder then that the basic premiss of the start of repentance has also been corrupted? In the words of Paul, Certainly not.

The solution, lies at the heart of repentance.

As always, the heart is the origin of all problems and solutions. So how does this apply to Christians today, who are apart from the world in this matter? For one, perhaps a reevaluation of what sorriness, apologies, and repentance is should be in order. This is the easy part frankly, as scripture is clear on what this is. Often though, I forget or need to be reminded of what it says, so that evaluation is always important.

Words are important, and how we use them determines whether we are communicating for Christ, or for the world. This is  just one phrase of many which I believe can be changed to the better, an remade into a statement of credibility, not irresponsibility.

Will you join me? Or do you have a different opinion? Be sure to let me know down below! :)

Please, Don’t Be Yourself.

Just going to share a quick experience about a common theme the world tells us today. A while ago, a person talking about many life choices they had made, and all the bad things which resulted in those decisions. Financially, personally, and physically. They ended the story with- “Well, that’s just who I am, so it works I guess.”

I want to plead with you today- please. Don’t be yourself. We, as humans, as flawed creatures. Scripture tells us over and over we are obsessed with ourselves, and in that, utterly lost in our actions. Without Christ, ourselves will destroy each other. Think of the various literary works, both ancient and modern, which display this. The book of Judges in the bible- where there was no ruler and the people did as they pleased. The story of Narcissus, where he fell in love with himself and ultimately died. In fact, greek mythology is full of similar stories. The Little mermaid (the real version- not disneyified), who gave up everything because she felt she was supposed to be human for a prince- ultimately dies.

The list could go on for ages where we see people pursuing their own desires. Being themselves and embracing their human desires…. Always winds up in a terrible ending. Why is the world encouraging this? Because Satan is the master of all lies.

So I guess I’ll sum this up with this thought. The world tells everyone to “Be yourself” no matter what adverse affects it has on others. No matter how destructive yourself is. No matter how painful you make it to live your life. In contrast, the Bible tells us to die to ourself. And in doing so will live a life glorifying to Christ, which results in fruit that is a blessing to all whom we come in contact with.

Seems to me, the best option is pretty clear.