Why You Can’t Change Your Gender

Man and Woman

(Content Warning: This post deals with mature themes of sexuality and sexual orientation)

Oh National Media, how we love thee for thy spotlight shining on issues here today and gone tomorrow. Directing our attentions by saying “Squirrel!” and the populous running to that story like a dog from Pixar’s UP. This most recent direction of Vanity Fair’s Magazine Cover has created quite the stir. The story isn’t surprising really, as it addresses fundamental questions regarding who we are.

You Can Change Your Biological Sex

While the U.S. is in awe of the physical change that has been wrought in and through this individual, fiery arguments have developed as to what to call Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner. Who he is. What his legal name now is. And so forth and so on. What is not disputed by either parties, is that he is biologically, now a female.

Thanks to science, it is possible to accomplish incredible things. Biological 3-D printing is opening up transplants with the possibilities of no patient rejection. We understand more of our creation than ever before. But with that understanding in a fallen world, we’ve seen twisting of application of science- like the person we see today.

Ever since Roe v. Wade, society has operated under the impression that people have rights over their own bodies to any extreme. Scripturally however, this body-owning mindset could not be further from the truth. We are but stewards of the physical shells in which we have been given. Granted, from a Christian perspective, this truth is simple to grasp. It is communicating this truth to the world is what has been and always will be- a difficult task.

You Can’t Change Your God-Given Gender

The truth of the issue is that each one of us was created by God with a specific gender in mind. That is, one’s soul apart from their biological shell. Society would say the first is dependent upon the other. The Bible says otherwise. In heaven it is said there will be women and there will be men. Yet, we will be as brothers and sisters. Will who we are in heaven be determined by our current biological setup when we die? Of course not.

One can certainly be a male or female anatomically. Yet, that can in no way determine whether our soul is that of a man or a woman. Our God created soul transcends the mere body in which we live. Our body will eventually be cast away and rot like everything else in this world regardless of whether or not we change core bodily functions or appearances.

That’s why a person can change their bodily appearance all they want, yet still be like what Christ said- a tomb inside. They are still that same lost, desperate, and hopeless individual. Trying to find meaning in things which will not satisfy. Trying make an impact in a manner which won’t last.

I’d challenge you not to get lost in the physical particulars like so many have, but to look deeper into the personal struggles which this person and so many others face. We have a huge opportunity here to be shining examples of Christlike compassion and boldness. Let’s not squander it arguing about what bra size Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner wears.

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Why We Are All Sheltered

Why we are sheltered

As a former Homeschooler, I still get the “Sheltered Question” occasionally. Sometimes it crops up as a social aspect, other times it is my lack of knowledge regarding the latest cultural fad, and others it goes back to simply not knowing this random famous song. Society claims we, the Homeschooled Christian, are sheltered and to be honest yes. Yes we are. But here is another truth.

Everyone is sheltered from something- be it good, or bad. 

This realization fully hit me back when I worked for an Autobody/Repair shop. Some of the nastiest stories and language I ever heard came from that place. Stories of orgy, drunkenness, blasphemy, flat out immorality, and perversion of the simplest phrases. These people were sheltered though too. Obviously not in the ways of the corrupt and lost world to which society entreats us to join, but sadly, in the joys of life which I had lived my life under. Joys of strong family, peace in life, and an eternal hope.

I grew up sheltered under the Umbrella of the Christian walk. An Umbrella that provided everything I needed in life to not only be happy, but to live confidently and with conviction. What a contrast it was to see another sheltered individual under the umbrella of the world; beaten, torn, tattered, and pulled about whenever the wind blew in the slightest. It was heart breaking at times, to see the miserable lives they were living, stumbling about in the storm of sin, and even acknowledging their lives, to put it in family friendly terms, “Stunk”.

How about we stop apologizing for and being embarrassed of our sheltered lives?

What perplexes me to no end now, is why we often refrain from sharing our umbrella with those who need it. When we see that person stumbling in the storm, getting soaked by their worldly decisions, why not offer our shelter to them? Why not say “Yup! I may not know your shelter, but I do know mine. Why not give it a try?

Know I’m not saying we should be completely culturally irrelevant in the world which we live. There are two ditches- Knowing nothing, and knowing everything. Both, per usual regarding extremes, are flawed. We must seek out things in culture which we can turn to Christ, like Paul did with the Romans. But we must also rest confidently and assuredly in our own sheltered nature of Christ, and not use “cultural relevance” as an excuse or crutch. I praise the Lord I grew up in the Sheltered way that I did. If more of us pondered this intently, we’d have a lot less apologies, and a lot more outreach. Because the only shelter really worth being under, is Christ’s.

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.

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~

Flashback: “I’m stuck with him?!?”

calvin-and-hobbes_true-friends

 

It was just another Sunday back in 2008. Our family all got up, went to church, and I went up to the youth group like I was supposed to. Even though I disliked it immensely (another post for another day) . As a freshman, I gathered in the appropriate room and prepared myself to face another youth group gathering. There were a few new guys and gals in the room, per usual, they went about introducing them. One of them was named Josiah- clearly a homeschooler. (We can just tell these things) So, when he introduced himself, I of course, was given the task of making him feel welcome, since that homeschool thing labeled him as such.

My gut reaction inside was “What?! I’m stuck with him?!” I wasn’t the friendly sort in that crowd. I had been burned to many times, I wan’t chasing girls, I didn’t play video games, I didn’t care about music that much. Hearing I was to make one of “these people” welcome… Well, let me tell you, it didn’t still well with me. I gave it my best go though, and when in sunday school and afterwards, made it a point to at least make small talk- where he came from, what he enjoyed, etc.

Two things stood out to me in those first conversations. One, that he was an incredible sharp minded dude. He didn’t talk much, less than me actually, but when he did, it was solid and had depth. Two, that he wasn’t a “Typical youth” rather, he was a young man who had purpose and who had a foundation rooted in Christ. The conversations we had were actually serious, and we had several shared interests. I was impressed, to say the least, and we clicked pretty much instantly.

His family eventually joined the homeschooling group, and they joined a different church. We wound up doing almost everything together in high school. He introduced me to TeenPact, which changed my life. We went to Worldview academy, played against each other on different baseball teams. We did all kinds of academic activities, talked about the tough stuff we were trying to figure out, and gave each other a hard time about his CAP neediness, and my Sci-fi Geekery. He became my best friend, and God brought him round when I needed one most.

What’s the point of all that sentimentality?

Well, reflecting on this a few days ago, I just realized (and am still realizing) that even in the most unpleasant settings, at the most random times, God will bring a person or event into your life that will, quite literally, change your life. I just think about what my life would be like had I not engaged “the new guy” in a conversation, if I had just ignored him like most new people were ignored. How much I would have missed and grown in high school, and continue to grow in today.

While I do believe there is no such thing as a “missed” opportunity, there is such thing as an ignored opportunity. Even in the strangest or most difficult settings, when those opportunities arise, don’t ignore them and Don’t pass them by, unless you have really prayed and thought about it. Because honestly, We have no idea what experiences, relationships, or growth will come out of them. I for one, would prefer not to find out.

What things have you learned out of seemingly nowhere? Any rejoicings or regrets? Share them below!

The Post about Controversial Posts

Wrong Internet

I think we’ve all seen it before. That one post about that one thing which that one author is incredibly passionate about. There are bible references, quotes, experiences, and e’rething (not just everything). And then it happens. Another person comes in and comments in disagreement… And you would have thought the world had been shaken out of orbit by the response given by the author. We find it everywhere don’t we? On Political blogs, Christian blogs, Car blogs… anywhere there is opinion there is most always overreaction to the disagreeing side (or vise versa). YouTube is famous for this, and also the quickest way to lose hope for humanity. ;)

One thing I’ve found about the internet which fascinates me is how quickly people will argue about something with a passion. Then, when meeting in person, they remain silent to the point of awkwardness about it. How quickly one will vehemently defend their opinions online against people they’ve never met, yet rarely do so with their best friends.  The reasons for this are many, but that’s not the point of this post, merely an observation.

Before I go on, I’d like to say I do find controversial posts expressing an opinion or belief, with a christ centered heart, an excellent thing. The problem is, often we find one without the other. Most often, I see a heart that is not centered on Christ. I’ve written my share of controversial posts, and read a great many more. One common theme I’ve found is while posters may not be soft headed- meaning they know a lot- that knowledge has puffed them up to being hard in their responses to disagreements. I’ve done it, you’ve done it, we’ve all done did it. Figuring out the problem is just the first step right?

Whether you are the initiating poster, or the responding commenter, I’d definitely encourage you to share what you believe or think. If everyone agreed on everything this world would be a dull and quite boring place. Through confronting, questioning, and discussing our ideas, we grow to understand them more. Often not letting them go or changing our minds, but coming to a greater understanding of where the other is coming from, and solidifying the “Why” of your statement.

So when you post a controversial statement or opinion, don’t see a disagreement as challenge to your beliefs. Rather, an opportunity to grow in them and perhaps learn something you hadn’t considered. If more people did this, comment boxes would be a place of beneficial encouragement and dialogue, rather than the degrading speech which is currently found in the large majority of posts today regarding just about anything.

So leave a little bit of Christlike comments and posts in those controversial places. Worse that can happen is you leave a little bit more informed and the person doesn’t change their mind. Which as we all know, mind changing happens all the time online. Oh. Wait…

;)

Leadership is… Being Genuine

Genuine LEather

Any quality leather company prides itself on one main thing. We’ve all see it stamped on their product or on the packaging: “100% Genuine Leather”. Why in the world would they put that on their box of product? Well, turns out that most leather we buy is not real leather. Most is a fake plastic textured, dyed, and scented to smell like the real thing. While it may be cheaper, anyone who has used a fake leather anything will tell you it degraded pretty quickly.

Genuine leather though? That stuff lasts forever. It not only is tough, but the more you use the leather, the better it fits you. Obviously a leader cannot be compared to a piece of cowhide in terms of usefulness or lasting impact, however, I think there is a lesson to be learned here which I’ve started to observe in my own life.

Genuine leaders are the ones who inspire trust, openness, and communication. Genuine leaders- those who lead as they really are, not the kind with a deceitful or even masked mindset- are incredibly influential, because they are incredibly open. People have no doubt as to whether or not that person is who they really claim to be. And that is a huge thing.

So why isn’t every leader open and genuine? Probably, I think, because of fear. When you are real, you are vulnerable. People reject others all the time. They criticize a personality, or even simply dismiss a person based on who they are. That shouldn’t stop a leader though. Because leadership isn’t based upon circumstance or petty opinions. It is based upon vision and passion, two things which are greater than any personal vulnerability.

I’m not going to lie, this is one aspect of leadership I do struggle with immensely. I’ve got my own personal little box which I like to live it. It is safe, secure, and predictable. It is also open when I want it to be, and can be closed too. That is not conducive to great leadership though- it is only conducive to yourself.

So let’s be real, authentic, and genuine leaders. Not two-faced ones who acts differently for different people, or hides behind their mask to feel safe. Let’s be genuine, and through our example, inspire others to do the same. So the question comes… How you do display genuineness as a leader?

The Quiet Man

The Quiet Man
The Quiet Man who left us in May 2014

“The Quiet Man”

A Poem By Austin Harrison

There sat a man who said not much,
and knew more than he let on.
Meekness was his constant way,
the Quiet Man now gone.

The warm broad smile upon his face,
came often and with ease.
His chuckling laugh and crooked grin,
displayed with every tease.

More solid than the grandest Oak,
More patient than his time.
Honest candor was his form,
The Quiet Man sublime.

A faithful husband to his wife,
for all their married years.
A wholesome father to his kids,
who quelled all their deepest fears.

A lover of God’s creation
who shared with anyone.
The enjoyment of the Spirit,
when exploring under sun.

While all these things remembered
of him we hold so dear.
The thing which made him special
is silently so clear.

It wasn’t his complexion,
or the family that he raised.
It wasn’t his adventures,
or the people that he praised.

No the thing which made him noble
the thing that made him great.
Was his loving peaceful spirit
Oft found wholesomely innate.

This peaceful personality
so filled with Christian love,
is what made him who he was no- is:
The Quiet Man above.

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?

What Makes You A Man…

Count of Monte Cristo

 

This is perhaps my favorite quote from the “Count of Monte Cristo”. Edmond Dantes is giving a toast of manhood to young Albert, and in that toast, this quote emerges. Life truly is stormy at times, and lovely in others. What will you, as a man (or a woman), do when you face trials? Will you react as a child and live in fear, complaining, and indecision? Or as a man- With courage, rejoicing, and confidence?

Just some thoughts for you today. I hope you enjoy pondering them as much as I have.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.  But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.  For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

James 1: 2-7