Where the Heart is (starring Jesus, not Natalie Portman)


I recently made a public decision to go into Christian ministries for my vocation, or to go into ‘vocational Christian services’ as many people call it. With that public acknowledgement  I had some questions concerning what serving Christ in the 21st century should look like. I have lots of apprehension about saying that I am making this my life, only because I believe as Christians it is what we are all called to do. I do not write this as a stab at those who have careers and jobs that are not so-called “Christian ministries,” I work at a coffee shop, I am hardly one to point out the splinter in your eye. Keep that in mind as I question some basic notions we have about living a Christian life in the 21st century . If you have any questions, comments, or suggests for me after reading this, I would love to hear them.


If you haven’t read my blog post entitled Empty Desert yet, do so before reading this to help it make more sense.


For a while now I have felt a call on my life to serve the Kingdom in any and every way possible, in every aspect of my life. That means something different for each believer, but for me I believe God is calling me to serve him full time, as a “career.” I am still trying to figure out exactly what that will look like, but I know it will involve telling people about the unfailing love of Jesus Christ. I have been working as a student ministry intern of sorts at Life Point Church in San Antonio and I have fallen in love with working within a church and hope to continue doing something along those lines.


This last Saturday I had lunch with my pastor from my home church, First Baptist Glen Rose, he encouraged me to make this decision public, to go forward during invitation to let the rest of the congregation know about my response to Christ’s call on my life. So I did just that, last Sunday morning I went forward, questioning eyes following me all the way to the front, people surely whispering about why I would be going up to the front, finally, standing beside my pastor, I whispered very quickly my sense of confusion, I simply said,  “I feel silly doing this.”


He understood my questioning, I guess, because he explained to me how my decision was not only for me, but for the congregation, so maybe they too will choose to listen to God’s call on their life.


Here is where I have a problem, the Bible clearly makes the point of explaining how all believers and followers of Christ should make their life all about the spreading and explanation of Christ’s love for all nations, to all people, and for every lifestyle. So why did I have to make that decision “public?” 


If I am publicly a Christian, then I believe people should be able to infer that my life is all about Christ now, after all Christian almost literally means ‘slave to Christ,’ yet that is no longer the case in our society. It is very easy to attend church on Sundays, and maybe a small group throughout the week, then do something that is not involved in ministry all the rest of the week. That is where I believe the problem lies, if we believe the Bible’s every words, then why do so many of us have a hard time dedicating our entire lives to his cause? I’m not sure the reason, but I want to look at some passages to help us see what Christ thought our lives should look like once we decide to accept him as our savior. 


Here in Luke 10 Jesus is sending out 72 disciples, or followers of him, men and women, who accepted Jesus as their savior, and the only way to eternal life. 

1 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2 He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4 Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.”



How much more to the point can it get? “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” It also makes me feel good about maybe not having the most fashionable clothes, because Jesus didn’t even want them to wear shoes, score! (That also makes me question some other inter-denominational religious ‘rules’, but that’s another post for another time)


Here’s another even more well know verse, Matthew 16 

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. 25 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. 26 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? 27 For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father and will judge all people according to their deeds. 28 And I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.



“Your selfish ways” to me means personal gain before Kingdom gain, or something like maybe spending a free weekend lounging around, even after your church asked you to help them with a community project , or maybe saving money meant for tithing for a vacation, or maybe that new iPhone 4s. Maybe it’s spending $60 on a new shirt, and not even thinking about giving to the poor or less fortunate. Whatever your “selfish way” is, Christ seems to want you to understand that it will send you to hell. And it’s not just in that passage, check out Matthew 25, it gets really serious here:

 34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
   37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
   40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
   41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
   44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
   45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

 So there’s that…. if that doesn’t make you question your purpose on the planet, I think you might need to have a serious heart to heart with you creator. 


Many people want to make their life all about Christ, but are always afraid to take the next step because that so often means stepping just a little bit further away from the security they have in their current life. They like the job they have, they enjoy the steady income, or maybe they know following the call with take them away from family, personally that’s one that worries me.  Maybe they enjoy the popularity they have, or enjoy showing off the fancy nice clothes they own, to all of these concerns Jesus says this in Luke 12

22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life<sup class="footnote" style="font-weight: bold; line-height: 0.5em; vertical-align: text-top;" value="[b]”>[b]? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?   27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
   32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.



“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” I love that verse, it goes hand in hand with the passage about the least of these. Where is you heart? 




Remember those WWJD bracelets that used to be ever so popular? Well I want to challenge you to remember that question again.


What would Jesus do?


or maybe what did Jesus do?


We are called to live a life like Christ’s, we are called to take up our cross, we are called to mimic Christ’s life. In John 14 Jesus again clearly makes the point of saying we are to be imitators of Christ.

 12“…Whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I<sup class="xref" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; line-height: 0.5em; vertical-align: text-top;" value="(W)”> am going to the Father.

Christ went to the Father and left the work up to us, empowered by the Holy Spirit we are called to do greater works than Jesus, yeah read that verse again…greater works than Jesus.




I am glad I publicly made the decision serve the Kingdom as my vocation, even if only to encourage others to do so. I hope that you will continue my trend. I know many of you have real person adult jobs, but I encourage you to make that your mission field. Let your co-workers see Christ’s love in you.


Or maybe quit and serve the lord full time, he says he’ll take care of you, why not take that leap of faith you’ve always wanted to, and see where Christ takes you.


Thanks for reading, everyone! I leave you with this,  



“I grew up in a culture that said not to take any risks, but you cannot avoid risk. Living is risky. God created us to live a risky life. But somewhere along the way we interpreted living the blessed life with living the safe life. God has called us to live in the time and the place that we live into to give solution to the world we live in. We live in a world that is broken, that is full of injustice, and that is full of pain. The purpose of life is not to arrive at the coffin safely. God has called us to a radical life. Often you will find that freedom and safety are not the same thing. Compassion is never compassion until you roll up your sleeves and cross the street. Do not confuse sympathy for compassion. God is looking for a generation of leaders that will step out of safety and comfort.”
-Christine Caine

I Do (Or Maybe I Don't)

I’ve got lots of questions. I count myself lucky that I am living in a society and era that allows women, and more specifically young christian women, to question society and the ideology that society stands upon.
 As an introduction, as always, I want to point out I am not an expert, nor do I pretend to be, on the topic of marriage, sexual relations, or even dating. My future life plans involve buying a small house and filling it with cats and house plants, I am hardly an expert on any of this. This post, and this blog, is simply a place for me to write out my ideas, then share them with a community.


Foreword- I mean no offence by any of this, I know I will be stepping on toes and hurting feelings, just know I do this not to condemn, but to make you see how your past hurting and suffering can now be used as a tool for spreading Christ’s love. If for any reason, you believe my opinions are truly unbiblical and you can site my mistakes, I will gladly revamp this post, this is just my commentary to some very difficult issues facing modern society and the modern church. 


This last June I set out on the lofty task of reading the bible everyday and ultimately finishing it in a year, so far I am still on track. I am 24% of the way through God’s word, and I am thoroughly enjoying creating a belief system based wholly on the holy word of God, but I am also finding some parts of it very difficult to swallow, this topic being one.


So here we go, I just want to get this out first, Jesus doesn’t want his followers to get married. Period the end. It’s just not something he saw as necessary, take this passage in Matthew 19 for example 

3 Some Pharisees came and tried to trap him with this question: “Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife for just any reason?”
 4 “Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’ 5 And he said, ‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ 6 Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.” 7 “Then why did Moses say in the law that a man could give his wife a written notice of divorce and send her away?” they asked.
 8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted divorce only as a concession to your hard hearts, but it was not what God had originally intended. 9 And I tell you this, whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery—unless his wife has been unfaithful.” 10 Jesus’ disciples then said to him, “If this is the case, it is better not to marry!”
 11 “Not everyone can accept this statement,” Jesus said. “Only those whom God helps. 12 Some are born as eunuchs, some have been made eunuchs by others, and some choose not to marry for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.”


After reading this passage I immediately read it again, and then again and then all I could think was “Wait, say what, Jesus? I thought you wanted us to get married, what happened to “God made them male and female so they could get married and live happily ever after?”” 
Isn’t that what we’re all taught growing up in Sunday school? “You should save yourself for marriage because God created someone just for you,” or my favorite “Don’t worry about that boy who broke your heart, God has a perfect man out there just for you!” 

The bible doesn’t seem to be saying that at all, it seems to say that you’re created to live a single life, completely dedicated to Christ. That’s a tough pill to swallow, especially in a society where marriage and dating are astronomically important, so lets look at another passage. In 1st Corinthians 7 Paul lays out a pretty thorough idea of what he feels God wants to see in a Christian in regards to marriage.

“1 Now regarding the questions you asked in your letter. Yes, it is good to live a celibate life. 2 But because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband…..8 So I say to those who aren’t married and to widows—it’s better to stay unmarried, just as I am. 9 But if they can’t control themselves, they should go ahead and marry. It’s better to marry than to burn with lust….26 I think it is best to remain as you are. 27 If you have a wife, do not seek to end the marriage. If you do not have a wife, do not seek to get married. 28 But if you do get married, it is not a sin. And if a young woman gets married, it is not a sin. However, those who get married at this time will have troubles, and I am trying to spare you those problems.”


So here’s the question, are Christians doing the right thing by getting married? or as Christians should we strive to lead a life wholly free from sexual interactions? I think the answer can again me found in Matthew 19 and then further explained in Ephesians 5. In Matthew 19 I think what Jesus is trying to say is basically this, Christians shouldn’t have sexual relations because those relations muddy our vision, making it hard to focus on God’s will for our life, but some people can’t control their sexual urges, and that lust then muddies your vision, basically you can’t win for losing. For those in that situation God created the idea of marriage.  

And good golly that idea of marriage is great, in Ephesians 5  Paul outlines the idea of a Christian marriage

 22 For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. 24 As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.
 25 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. 27 He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. 28In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. 29 No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. 30 And we are members of his body.
 31 As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” 32 This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one.33 So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”



That sounds great, huh? A deep strong relationship built on mutual trust, respect, and sex. So what happens when a marriage isn’t build on those morals, it falls apart. 


We see every year an increase in divorce statistics, I myself can name a list of divorcee’s as long as McCarthy’s communist list. How should we deal with that? Well in the scriptures is says that you should work very hard not to get divorced, even if your spouse is a non-beliver you should remain married to them because “16 Don’t you wives realize that your husbands might be saved because of you? And don’t you husbands realize that your wives might be saved because of you?” (1st Corinthians 7 )


That’s pretty powerful, if you find yourself in a marriage where your spouse in a nonbeliever you are to make your relationship with them a evangelical one. But what does the bible say about getting re-married? I’ll tell you, nothing very uplifting.


Christ is pretty blatant in his belief that if you remarry you are committing adultery, you’re living in adultery, and what the bible says about adultery isn’t very uplifting either. Here’s what 1 Corinthians 6 says about living in a life of sin

“9 Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, 10 or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. 11 Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”



So who’s getting into the kingdom of heaven now? Not you either? okay good. We are all sinners. Everyone. Romans 3:23 says “All have sinned,”  sinning is part of being a human, it’s something you can’t avoid. You can only be “cleansed,” “made holy,” and “made right” by calling on the name of the Lord, because only by his blood are you saved. 


So here is where I will leave you, if we are all sinners, if marriage is something Christ is against, if divorce is something Christ is against, and if divorcees getting remarried is seen as adultery, then can we assume he feels the same about gay marriage? Gay marriage is in the exact same boat as divorcees getting re-married, the sin boat. The boat that leads to hell unless you accept the grace and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. How many divorcees attend church each Sunday? How many men and women of all ages commit sexually impure acts yet attend church on Sunday with no spoken condemnation from the congregation? How then can we rightly condemn homosexual acts? Isn’t the log in our eye just as large as the log in theirs? How can the blind lead the blind? They cannot, and should not! 


We are all dirty, sick, hopeless, sinners who need to be lead by one who is much greater than we will ever be, Jesus Christ. We are called to love one another no matter what, in the same way Christ loves us. How then can we love when we are too busy passing judgement on one another? We cannot. 




Simply learn to love one another above all else and let Christ take care of all else. 

34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:34-35








How to become an Andy Ritcher

Forward:I am probably not the best person to write about this topic; first off, I don’t watch Conan as often as I want to, I love him and his interviews are always great, plus his guest stars, my favorite being Will Forte’s Ted Turner, are top notch, I just always seem to forget to watch it. My favorite talk show host is actually Jimmy Kimmel, I can’t tell you why either. I think it’s because he isn’t the best looking, but he makes up for it with his straight forward humor. Which I can relate to, except I’m not as funny as he is.

Secondly, I am probably more guilty than anyone else of wanting to be a Conan. I want to have control, I want to be the one at the desk, the one who has the show named after me. I want everyone to see and know me. Me me me me. By writing this post I am hoping to hold myself up to some sort of accountability. I am hoping that I can start to become more of a Andy than a Conan.

So, if for some reason you don’t know who Conan O’Brien is, please check your pulse, you’re probably dead. If you’re dead and you’re reading this, I’d love to know God’s thoughts on this post, so if you could just tell me what he says that would be awesome. Now, if you don’t know who Andy Richter is that is still not very good, you might not be as hip or up to date with popular culture as you probably should be, so here is a crash course in Andy. (You could just read his wiki page if you want a more in depth look at his wide spanning career.)

Andy, born in Michigan in October 1966 is the side-kick of talk show host Conan O’Brien. First being hired as a writer, he soon moved to side-kick when producers noticed the chemistry between the two. In 2000, after 7 years of working with Conan, Andy took a break and worked on a few projects from 2000-2009. (Most notable are Arrested Development, Madagascar, and my favorite, Suite Life on Deck) Then in 2009 Andy returned to Conan’s side. America rejoiced as we saw the Prodigal Comedian return to his beloved talk show. Then that not funny guy with the weird chin, Jay Leno came around and you know where that goes…

But never fear, in November of 2010 Conan got a new talk show on TBS, and Andy followed.

Caught up? Good, now moving on.

——————–

So how does this apply to us as Christians? How can we look at Andy Richter’s life as a metaphor for our Christian walk and faith?

Well I think it’s pretty simple, first we look at Andy’s approach to interacting with guests. Let’s say our beloved Nick Cage is coming out in a new movie, let’s make it a romantic comedy, we’ll call it “Looking” the tag line could be “Looking for love, but also killing bad guys and solving mysteries.”

Sidenote: I don’t think, given Conan’s knack for picking on Nick, that he will ever be on the show. What a sad day for America.

So here comes Nick from behind the curtain, the crowd applauds, they hope that Nick took his happy pills that day, and then once they feel they have honored him enough with their cheers, they sit. And so does Nick, in a chair right beside Conan, but only after shaking Conan’s hand, then Andy’s. Then Andy is forgotten for the time being. The camera pans to Nick and Conan’s conversation, yet Andy is there the entire time, sitting beside our celebrity, Nick.

How does Andy feel about this? Well, I don’t know, because I don’t know Andy, but I can tell you how I would feel, not good.

Because I’m selfish, everyone is to some extent. You may be thinking “Well, I wouldn’t be wanting the attention, I’m more of a behind the scenes person” And yes, that is true, not everyone wants attention or the spotlight in that famous sort of way, some people truly are shy, some people don’t dream of their time to shine in the limelight, but everyone wants and needs attention. You can’t live life hidden in a basement alone, you would go insane. You may want to be there most of the time, but I assure you, put the shyest of people in a basement alone, and in due time they will crave human interaction again. Don’t ask me why, I think it’s the way we’re taught to be.

I originally wanted to say that we are that way because it’s the way we’re wired, but I don’t believe that’s the case. I believe this need to have attention comes from our human condition. (I am not talking about the need to have community, which comes from a deep seeded want to be loved by a creator, and by his creations as well, I am just talking about wanting attention.) Think of your shyest friend, okay? If he or she didn’t want attention why would they buy clothes from a certain trendy place? Why would they decorate their house in some way? Their need for attention may be drastically smaller than yours or mine, but I think they still have that need. It makes us feel good about ourselves. It makes us feel appreciated. We want that.

Being accepted and appreciated are great and wonderful things, we want them, and we need them, I just believe we should go about them in a way that is Christ honoring. We should choose to chanel that attention the correct way.

———————–

Okay, so getting back to Andy, without Andy at Conan’s side things would be very different, Andy is there if things go bad, if a jokes needs help, or for commentary on a situation.
The show is never about him, the show needs him and benefits greatly from him, but they don’t need him.

Getting back to my point, I think that as Christians we should try to mold our lives to look more like Andy’s approach to talk show hosting. So lets say Conan would be God in this situation, and the un-beliver would be the guest. We are Andy, as in the role of guiding and helping to explain or fill in an empty place should one arise. We shake hands with the guest, introduce ourself to them, then let God take over. Should the un-beliver, who at this point is hopefully on their way to a personal walk with their savior, have a question, or should they have a season of silence in their walk, we should be there to help them out, to fill in the gaps.

Ultimately we should take a backseat to what God can, and will, do in peoples lives, we cannot, and should not, ever try to save people, we do not have authority to do that. God’s love is the only thing that can save people. We should be used as a tool for God’s love, we should be the container that holds the love, but we should never try to be that love. Are you still with me?

———————–

I love working at summer camps, in 2007 I spent a summer working at a camp in Texas, it was hot, and it was hard work. Truth be told, I hated working there. The friends I made were great, the community I found myself in was amazing, but the work itself was very hard. The theme for that summer was ‘Taking a backseat.’ Our work shirts had a picture of an old 1970’s stationwagon on them which made me laugh because if I think about the backseat of a car like that I just think of hippies making babies. They also had ‘Philippians 2’ on them, that however never made me think of stoned out couples making love.

Over that summer we really dug into Philippians 2, I love Philipians 2 because Paul talks about how Jesus gave up his equality with God to come save a lost, broken, and hurting world. He humbled himself to the point of becoming a human being, or a ‘slave’ as Paul says, just for us. The closest thing that my brain can compare that to would be Kim Kardashian giving up all of her fame and glory because she fell madly in love with a hobo.

Go with me here, say Kim meets a homeless man on the streets of LA one day, she and him connect- so much so that she falls in love with him, and she would do anything to get him to love her back. He wants proof of her love though, so Kim gives up everything she has, her fame, her glory, her status, she gives up her ‘heavenly’ life to prove her love to a man who has nothing to offer her. As crazy as it sounds, if we could measure that love and dedication, what Christ did for us would be astronomically larger.

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If Christ can do that for us, why do we find it so hard to take that back seat? Like I already spoke about before, I believe it is taught to us, but not because it is a good thing to know. It’s not in the girl scout handbook, you’re not taught it in class, you’re taught it because we see it in everyone. Everyone has their own agenda, politicians like to use Jesus as part of their agenda, both Republicans and Democrats, which is crazy because Jesus does not want his name tied in with those lunatics, Jesus wants to save people and show them love, that’s it. (That’s a whole other topic for a different post though, folks.)

I believe we set ourselves at the top of the agenda because of Satan, plain and simple. Satan is as real as anything else in this world, and he knows that if we all only care about ourselves, he wins. Love never stands a chance of winning when all we do is care about our agenda. Satan knows that if we got together and all decided to show Christ’s love in our everyday actions, if we mimicked our daily life after Christ’s life and message, then we would have a planet full of believers. But we don’t. We, myself included, think about ourselves way too much. I sometimes try to think about how many times a day I think about myself, and then about 10 minutes later I am so disgusted with myself I don’t even want to be my friend. We’re horrible people, really and truly.

I believe if more of us decided to take a back seat, if we worked everyday towards a agenda of loving people and putting our needs second, we could change the world quicker than lighting. Our churches would fill up, and we would be adding thousands to the population in heaven. How glorious would that be?!

How glorious would it be if we became a whole planet of Andy Richters?

I will leave you with this, Ephesians 4 1-16

“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8 This is why it says:

“When he ascended on high,
he took many captives
and gave gifts to his people.”

9 (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”

Empty Desert

“Life has to be lived; a person has to get out of his head, has to fall in love, has to memorize poems, has to jump off bridges into rivers, has to stand in an empty desert and whisper sonnets under his breath…”
-Donald Miller, Through Painted Desserts

It’s been a good while since I’ve been here on Blogspot, I guess Don Glover knew I’d be back. (See Jamie XX remix Rolling in the Deep – Adele feat Childish Gambino)

Lots of change has taken place in my life. I now know that I can be a follower of Christ, a christian if you will, and be a normal functioning relatable human-being. Growing up in a conservative Baptist environment planted some, lets just say, not so ‘cool’ life paths ahead of me, and I didn’t want that. I wanted to be able go to parties, if I wanted to; my actual personality isn’t very suited for such places, but hell, I wanted to be able to go if I wanted to go. I wanted to smoke cigarettes, listen to what the church calls ‘secular’ music, to laugh at Judd Apatow’s movies and say cuss words with the rest of the world. They wanted me to be a boring average drone with no sense of humor and to absolutely never associate with that lifestyle.

Okay, you’re right, I am probably over-exaggerating a little, they had my best interest at heart and I still love and look up to almost all of the religious influences of my early life- they were teaching me what they believed would help me, I am just more of a self-teaching, learn as I go type student.

I went for about two years under the guise of ex-Christian now worldly Buddhist, Ginsberg loving, girl who knew there was more to life than one conservative religion made up of old people and young idiots who were too afraid to live life fully, with courage and passion. I was grossly stupid, naive, and proud.

After living away from home and trying to grow up on my own in places like New Mexico and Washington light bulbs started to click back on, I say back on because they had once been on. I had once been an on fire, living my life for Jesus and his amazing will for my life, young student. I was going to deticate my life for his kingdom. I had gone to Africa and Mexico in his name, to share his love with the world, I had participated in numerous church functions, I was known as a christian to all of my high school friends, I was that girl.

Side note: Looking back I am now almost certain being cast in that role of ‘goody goody christian girl’ made me lose sight of God’s plan for my life, because it was so easy to slip into that role I never had to really have the foundation for that role. I was like a bottle of ketchup with no ketchup inside. I eventually realized I needed filled, but instead of filling my bottle with ketchup, the thing ketchup bottles are made for, I filled my bottle with things I though belonged in my empty hollow life. Thankfully I never filled my life with any sin that has major repercussions, no wild parties, no bad lifestyle choices, basically I was just a bible bashing hater that loved to read literature that supported my agenda.

Rewind: At a retreat in January 2008 I heard God’s calling on my life to be a student minister. At the time I had a great friend who I was very close to and we shared everything, he too had plans to become a youth minister, and I believe he is doing that now. My friend spurred me on, giving me guidance and encouragement in my new vocational dedication, but that summer, the summer before my senior year, he and I got into an argument, basically ruining a beautiful friendship and sending me into a spiral of doubt and resentment. I was so angry that God would let such a good thing come to an end, and without his encouragement I began to doubt that God had called me to his cause at all. This is where I started filling my bottle with plans and ideas God never intended for me to fill my life with.

Over the next two years, give or take, after that summer I was doing everything I could to stay away from that christian lifestyle I had once had. I pierced my nose, I read books that disproved a God, I watched lots of documentaries about how their is no way a God could exist. I tried to guide my friends and even my little brother and sister along with me, I wanted them to get out of the ‘brainwashing’ life they found themselves in. I even got a tattoo to show the world how cultural and worldly I was.

In San Francisco, California, June 2010 I got Shalom in Hebrew tattooed on my left foot. I got it because it was foreign and Jewish and hip and I thought it would show the world how ‘peaceful’ and ‘complete’ I was without having a god in my life. If you know anything about the word shalom right now you should be rolling out of your chair laughing, by getting a tattoo of shalom I became a human billboard for God’s perfect will for human life. ‘Shalom’ is a word used countless times in the old and new testament, it has many many meanings which you can read about here, but my favorite is the one my pastor uses “The way things ought to be…”

How beautiful is that?! “The way things ought to be?” That’s poetry in itself. I love to think about the way things ought to be- maybe its a girl thing, but I love to sit around thinking of the perfect husband, the perfect life, job, house, etc. The way I think things ought to be, the thing is though… the way things ought to be has nothing to do with my wants and needs.
Fast forward: After living in this ketchup bottled filled with mustard, or whatever, for about two years I moved to San Marcos, Texas to attend Texas State. There at Texas state I had the Texas equivalent of Donald Miller’s Reed College experience. (Read Blue Like Jazz if you have no idea what I am talking about) At Texas State I was surrounded by a wonderful group of ladies, some of them believers, some of them un-believers, some of them didn’t give a crap, they just had very insightful thoughts. It was in this crowd that I became interested in a Christian walk that didn’t look like a bible toting Richie Cunningham. I attended a church service in San Antonio with a friend in October of last year and the day I was there the pastor was speaking about, you guessed it- shalom and God’s idea of ‘How things ought to be.’ It was around that time that I fully decided I was tired of living that crap filled life, but I was so full of it I couldn’t just stop, I had myself full to the top and needed a way out, a way to empty myself from myself.

This is where the story should have a wonderful climax, I should tell you about some life changing near death experience that forever changed me and emptied my bottle to be filled with Christ’s love, but I don’t have anything like that. All I can say is that with patience, love and boundless faith God can move mountains, and even change a sinner’s heart. (Lots of amazing worship services and humbling my proud sin nature were also key in this transition)

In January I began attending Life Point church in San Antonio full time, the same church I had visited in October. Slowly I got into a Christian lifestyle again and started wanted to make that my life all the time. I figured since I had started making friends in San Antonio and loved the church that I was attending that I should just move there- so I did last June. And I love it. Never before in my life have I felt so full. My life is an empty vessel being filled with what it was made to hold, God’s endless abounding head over heels no words can describe love. I have started reading my bible every day and am now 20% though it, learning more about what God has in store for me, and how to live my life as the bible says I should life it, not the way books, pastors, friends, or even family tells me to live it.

I am so thankful that God let me stray from his path, that I got to catch a glimpse of the hurt and broken world that is in need of a savior. I lived my life in the in belly of a whale for two years, I was a walking talking Saul, with less actual killing and more figurative killing. With God’s help I am now on my way to saving the ten thousand on Nineveh’s shore, I am on my way to saving a lost and broken world by sharing the love, grace and peace that God has for all. I am on my way to a glorious eternity in Heaven. You can be too.

Thanks for reading this long post, and a huge thank you to all of the people, near and far that encouraged me while I was in the belly of the whale, and those who loved and prayed for me every step of my journey, and thanks to those who are now walking beside me on my journey.
May God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord give you grace, mercy, and peace.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.” Romans 12:1

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 9 So do not be attracted by strange, new ideas. Your strength comes from God’s grace…” Hebrews 13:8-9