Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Christianphobia!

It’s amazing how fearful I’ve become ever since I’ve created this blog. I thought that my words and my thoughts would trigger some sort of bond with those struggling with homosexuality and coming to God. My book was already out and I needed another outlet as far as writing went.

Then, I came across other Christians who were completely appalled by the fact that I was a lesbian writing about Christian matters. How can a lesbian be Christian? How can a Christian be a lesbian? All these questions and judgmental remarks towards me left me wondering if I really wanted to surround myself with other Christians.

But, what is the actual definition of a Christian?

-Professing belief in Jesus as Christ or following the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus.
-Relating to or derived from Jesus or Jesus' teachings.
-Manifesting the qualities or spirit of Jesus; Christ-like.
-Relating to or characteristic of Christianity or its adherents.
-Showing a loving concern for others; humane.

Professing belief – having faith is all about Christianity. Loving God with all your heart and loving your neighbor, right? Quite a few “Christians” came onto my site to tell me their beliefs and opinions opposing my homosexual lifestyle. I’ve gone over these things many times as you all know. They threw scriptures at me and relentlessly judged me and said I was going to hell. I can totally see how other gays and lesbians would turn away from God altogether due to human judgments. It’s sad, because we’re all in this together.

There is this one gentleman (who will remain anonymous) that ridicules me for being a lesbian and having faith in Christ at the same time. Now, my relationship with my partner is a monogamous one. I love her, just as a man would love his wife or vise/versa. To me, our love isn’t any different than that. We focus on God – and the first thing in the morning before starting our day, we pray to God first. He comes first. Well, this man comes onto my site and says that I’m placing my relationship before Christ. He doesn’t even know me to even make such a remark like that. What about husbands and wives who put each other first, yet go to church every Sunday and have faith in God? I mean, how can you judge a loving relationship if God is involved? You just can’t.

Well, here’s a little background on Mr. Anonymous that I’ve obtained. Mr. Anonymous is a divorcee that is seeking a new relationship with a woman on a personal website. Now, to me there’s nothing wrong with that at all. I don’t judge him, nor would I give him any derogatory remarks about him seeking another woman on a personal ad. Fine. Whatever floats your boat. Tons of people do it.

What gets me is, he repeatedly told me to ‘repent of my sin’ and give up my lifestyle. Then God won’t throw me into hell. He says that ‘homosexuality is a sin’ according to the scriptures listed in Leviticus. Well, what about him? First of all, Leviticus is in the Old Testament. Those laws no longer apply. Now, Mr. Anonymous is a divorcee seeking another woman. In Leviticus and in the New Testament, it goes on to say that if a man divorces his wife, and she is still alive – and the man decides to marry another woman – that is considered adultery. As long as his ex-wife is still alive, he’s doomed.

His argument is that he’s repented – so he can go on continuing to seek out a new relationship. Now, what about my scenario? Mr. Anonymous says that if I don’t repent, I’ll go to hell. But even if I repent (which I don’t think loving someone is a sin anyway) then I still cannot continue a relationship with the woman I love so much. But he can. So he applies the laws to fit his life. His sin is just as bad as mine. Now, again, I’ll say that loving someone is not the same as promiscuous behavior. He believes I’m committing a sin.

In Corinthians and Romans they speak of the promiscuity aspects of homosexuality. It was considered dirty.

But first, I want to display “Sometimes Saintly Nick’s” comment on a previous post of mine.

“Mr. Anonymous’ theology is as poor as his Biblical exegesis, which is in reality isogesis. Here are a few comments on Leviticus 18:22:The passage in the ancient Hebrew is clearly talking about male-male sex acts, specifically anal sex. The issue was penetrating an anus with a penis, this making the penis literally “unclean” to the point of forbidding entry into a vagina. I wonder if the same prohibition would not also apply to male/female anal sex?Using the word "homosexuality" in some English translations makes the text appear to condemn lesbian activity as well. The latter behavior is definitely not mentioned in the original Hebrew text of this passage. In fact, lesbian behavior is not mentioned anywhere in the Hebrew Scriptures.The term "homosexuality" has two distinct meanings in English. Sometimes it refers to sexual behavior (what some people do). Sometimes it relates to sexual orientation (what some people are). One reader might conclude from an English translation that homosexual orientation is criticized in the Bible; others might assume that homosexual behavior is criticized. However, the word "homosexual" was first used in the very late in 19th century C.E. There was no Hebrew word that meant "homosexual." Thus, whenever the word is seen in an English translation of the Bible, one should be wary that the translators might be inserting their own prejudices into the text."

People are so unforgiving if you really think about it. They constantly compare and judge everyone around them. Is it that they feel the need to make themselves happy by trying to make others unhappy? There are people who dedicate their blogs to the people they hate the most. They spew nasty remarks about how ‘bad’ these people behave, when they are simply loving other human beings monogamously. Yes, there are a lot of promiscuous homosexuals, but don’t forget, there are many promiscuous heterosexuals too. We’re all human. We make mistakes. We have to accept that as humans, we have the flaw of making numerous mistakes, but we have the advantage of Jesus’ forgiveness. His gift is paid in full for you. I think a lot of Christians forget that. Their precious time and effort is wasted on ‘playing judge’ and making others feel horrible about themselves.

If it weren’t for judgmental and cruel people claiming to be Christians, I bet you anything that the suicide rate in the homosexual community would lessen. How many times have you heard a homosexual kid or even an adult say, “Oh my GAWD I can’t ever tell my family I’m gay! They’d disown me!” And they speak of their family, who are supposed to love and support them. Now for those parents that are as accepting to my lifestyle as my parents are, think of it like this… If my own parents accept and love me ‘as is’, what makes other people think God isn’t capable of doing the same for me…or the same for you? Do we feel that God is inadequate of doing such a thing? Do we feel that God doesn’t have the power to love and go beyond who we love?

There’s another topic I want to touch upon. A reader emailed me recently and asked me why I bashed gay pride parades on Mark’s site. Well, here are my reasons:

Most gay pride parades have people prancing around topless or half naked with picket signs claiming they want rights. But the thing they have to realize is, (in my opinion at least) is that presentation goes a long way. If you want to get your message across, do it tactfully, instead of shedding clothing and acting promiscuously in front of the world. The people who do that, (not saying that all do) give homosexuals a bad name. They’re looked upon as perverts. I can totally understand why. And most of all, I will not partake in that kind of thing. It’s trashy to me.
The word “PRIDE” is offensive to me.

Definition of the word “pride”:

1. a high or inordinate opinion of one's own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.

2. the state or feeling of being proud.

3. a becoming or dignified sense of what is due to oneself or one's position or character; self-respect; self-esteem.

4. pleasure or satisfaction taken in something done by or belonging to oneself or believed to reflect credit upon oneself: civic pride.

It’s an arrogant way to describe yourself in my opinion. To be prideful is to put things before God. To be humble is to show that you’re loving, caring and put others before yourself. A lot of what the gay pride parades stand for are sometimes shocking.

Another issue of mine is that we finally have the right to get ‘married’ or have a civil union in New Jersey. Yay! This is great news. We get the same benefits as a man and a woman. Now, the gay and lesbian community are barking because it’s not called ‘a marriage’. It’s called a ‘civil union’. Who cares! Let them digest this first. This is a huge step for us. Why are they sabotaging it already? As soon as the gays and lesbians realize that a civil union is exactly the same thing as a heterosexual marriage, then it’ll be more accepted in other states and readily available for those couples waiting in line to be united. So please, for the love of God, accept what is offered and be happy that we get the same benefits now. What’s in a name anyway? It baffles me that they want to push it to the extreme and make everything into a huge fiasco. Some people are way too pushy about things and it really makes me wonder about their motives and why they want to get married in the first place. I would be happy with just a small ceremony and close friends and family joining us. But that’s just me. I don’t care about the labels, I care about what my partner and I have as a couple and what we own, and what would go to her if I were to leave this world. I want to know that it was hers and not anyone else’s. (Not that I have much anyway!)

So as I got sidetracked with my “Christianphobia” topic, I’m also relating to the Christians who belittle the gay and lesbian community. I can see how they get frustrated with some of us when we put so much in their face. But there are homosexuals who are genuinely in love with their partner and don’t want to make a huge fuss over who accepts them. We’re normal everyday people like you and we just want the ‘hating’ and the ‘judging’ to stop. I know that’s unrealistic, but just because a few bad eggs made the rest look bad, doesn’t mean the whole batch is bad. And the same goes out to those Christians who are categorized as ‘haters’. There are the fundamentalist-extreme types that make it hard for the gay and lesbian people to accept them as well. So it works both ways.

I guess the unknown is scary to many of us. We fear things that we are unfamiliar with. We don’t want to deal with it, or we delve into it as if it were our business. Again, two extreme ends of the spectrum. Maybe if we didn’t focus so much on how other people were living their lives, we would be much happier. Or maybe we’re content on trying to ‘fix’ other people? I don’t know. Whatever the reason is for how we behave towards things that are unfamiliar to us, it has to be taken with a grain of salt. We react in different ways and we’ll never be convinced otherwise if our hearts believe so strongly about a certain issue. We can’t change anyone’s minds, but we can definitely try to mind our own business and focus on God more and focus on the matters that pertain to us.

Finding My Way

How terrible it would be if a newborn baby said to its father and mother, “Why was I born? Why did you make me this way?” ~Isaiah 45:10

It’s one of the first scriptures I reference to in the book I wrote. I’m finding that I’m having difficulty understanding why God brought me here – why He chose to put me here on earth full of life’s struggles. I’m sure a lot of you go through similar things, but different flavors. I used to get frustrated with so many things in the past. I couldn’t get to point A. to point B. fast enough. But my excuse back then was, “But I’m still young…it’ll happen.” I’m thirty-three years old now. Things should be moving and shaking, and they aren’t, however I won’t mention which parts are moving and shaking at my age now. We’ll just leave it at that!

I would love to entertain the thought of not being an envious person. Sadly enough, I find myself wondering why things are happening so easily for some, but so challenging for me. My work is much different from others – I know that. My work to some isn’t considered “work” at all. It’s considered more of a hobby. The ‘starving artist’ scenario. As artists, we feel the pangs of our effort that goes into our work. We struggle and hope that whatever it is that we create will flourish us with what we need. But what is it we need? Is it the mere joy of doing what we love? Or are we really trying to make money out of it? I want to speak for myself and say both! Why not? With my anxiety and depression along with horrible menstrual pain each month that leaves me practically debilitated, it’s very hard to keep a 9-5 job that’ll give me the financial needs I’m looking for. But the one thing I can do is write and create music. I also have a talent for bartending, but the hours are very late. I’m not sure I want to do that again.

Even with being a published author, I don’t have the means of obtaining a PR rep or the ability to advertise as much as I need to. I’ve submitted my writings to numerous agents and publishers that simply took my material and set it aside somewhere on their desk ‘to be looked at’, or it was just thrown out in the wastebasket for all I know. So I’m lost. I don’t know where to go from here. It leaves me drained with thoughts of worthlessness and lack of hope. There are many things in life that I do love though. I love the closeness I have with my friends and family. But as time goes on, I can definitely see the change in relationships with each person. I’ve grown apart from my family very much. Sometimes I think I barely know them at all. I never thought that would happen. With the lack of spending time with them, it’s easy to fall into the category of just a ‘family member’, and not ‘their daughter’, or ‘their sister’. We call ourselves a close-knit family, but we’re really not. Or, I should say, “I’m really not”. Not anymore. I don’t have anything in common with them. I don’t have kids, I don’t live the ‘heterosexual’ world, and I don’t have the same mindsets as they do. We’re so different. But it shouldn’t really matter.

A lot of people don’t think I want to bother with them. They think that I’m too busy to give them a call, or that I’m just not into their friendship – the same with my sisters. The truth is, I’m scared to even call any of my sisters or some of my friends. To me, they seem too busy with their own lives and have way too much on their plate to deal with someone like me. My conversation may be frivolous, or maybe I lack the knowledge of preschool and kindergarten matters. I don’t have a concept of my own family. But, I don’t want children. Maybe they think that I don’t like children. Sometimes I’m actually scared of kids. They frighten me. I don’t know how to make children happy or act around them. I’m not sure if this has anything to do with being the youngest out of four girls, but it always makes me want to know why I can’t relate to them as much as I want to. I’m terrified to baby sit, which makes my sisters probably think that I’m not there for them or that I don’t want to help, but I am and I do. I’d do anything for them. They probably think that I don’t love them. But I do. They’re my best friends...or were.

It’s so awesome to see my mother and her sister interact. Those two are genuine best friends. When they’re together, they hold hands while walking on the beach in Atlantic City, they laugh until tears come pouring out of their eyes, they even say “I love you” often to one another before hanging up the phone after a long conversation. I’m envious of my mother’s relationship with her sister. I wish I had that. I love seeing them together. It makes me happy to see them happy. Maybe the struggles of how they were brought up somehow made their bond closer. Maybe the way my sisters and I grew up somehow left us feeling astray. I don’t know. Each relationship is so different from another.

Now with the distance that has been created with my family and some of my friends, I sort of feel at a loss. I don’t know what to do. I feel unstable. I have thoughts of just moving across the country and starting a new life, but it’s much easier said than done. I used to think I would never entertain that thought, but now it’s sort of easier to think about since I’m so far away from my family as it is. Maybe I need a different pace in my life. Maybe a different atmosphere would change my way of thinking. Even just to try it for a few months or more would give me a better taste of what life’s really about.

Amy used to live in San Francisco. She speaks so fondly of it. Lately, she’s been speaking about it more and more and keeps telling me how much I would love it. She has a lot of family members on the west coast and that’s definitely where her heart is. I can tell. New York is draining her. I don’t think she’s adapting as well as she wanted to. It’s not that she can’t do it here - she’s just a west coast kind of gal. I admire that. But the question is, maybe I’m a west coast kind of gal too – and just need to get my bum there instead of wondering what it would be like to walk the streets of SF and maybe even open up my own cafĂ© one day, like I dreamed about most of my life. Maybe all of my art, music and writing will come to fruition over there. Maybe New York isn’t for me.

With all these questions in my mind today, I wonder how long they’ll last. Tomorrow’s a new day with new thoughts. I know myself. I change my mind so fast and so abruptly, that this post will be long forgotten before I even finish it. I don’t know why I’m so unpredictable or unstable with my thoughts and ideas. I wish I could maintain a thought or idea and just stick with it. Maybe this post will help me decide whether I want to pursue a life in California. It couldn’t hurt to look into it or try it out. The worst thing that could happen would be a one way ticket back to New York…but that doesn’t mean I have failed.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

My Own Prison

And when I say people are insincere with their advice on how to deal with depression, it’s meant in the terms of those who haven’t experienced it themselves. They think it’s just a ‘sad day’ and that it’ll pass. They truly believe there’s a root cause of it all. “Well something must have happened.” No. “Oh, she’s probably having a fight with her girlfriend.” No again. My girlfriend is the only thing keeping me alive actually! (Of course second to God’s help.) I’m torn between those who belittle the feelings of depression and those who have no idea how to approach the matter delicately. There is no delicate approach actually. The attempt to communicate is enough effort to me. The attempt to make me laugh is even greater!

Maybe I’m self-loathing, self-centered, self-analyzing, self-diagnosing and most of all, self-destructive. My therapist says, “I’m okay”. I don’t need medication to help me. He says that I have ‘generalized anxiety’, and that I’m not experiencing anything different from anyone else. It’s normal. Is it normal to cry for hours upon hours for absolutely no reason at all? Is it normal to have a nervous breakdown, smashing my framed photography all over my studio leaving shards of glass everywhere? Is it normal to totally shut down and not comprehend one word someone is trying to tell you after a mini breakdown? You can hear the words, you can think the words you want to say, but you have no ability to take action. You’re completely shut down and helpless. My doctor feels that it’s part of life. ‘It’s normal’.

Someone close said to me, “Well maybe you shouldn’t be writing this in your blog.” Well why the hell not? Sure I have tons of faith in God and I know that He’s with me every step of the way. God has a plan for me – but why does He have to use me in this manner? I don’t know. I know I’m being attacked by the evil one. The thing of it is, the closer you get to God, the more the devil seeks out to kill, steal and destroy any joy you have. My faith is way too strong. Let the devil try to attack me. His ass will be kicked back into the depths of hell. It’s a war. Bring it!

Satan has a powerful gun that he uses filled with ammunition like no other. The ammunition used is thoughts. First he strikes you with the thought of unworthiness. You’re not worthy enough of God’s love. God hates you because you’re a sinner. Then he throws guilt into his gun and shoots you with it. It leaves you with the feeling of way too much guilt to even try to approach God with your problems. If that doesn’t get to you, he’ll fire out some self-loathing bullets. You’ll be sure to crumble with that one. That’s a strong bullet that’s hard to heal from. If you recover from that, he’ll shoot you down a few times with hopelessness. You’ll feel fatigued and too tired too do anything you once loved.

Still not getting to you?

Then he’ll strike you down with the thoughts of taking your own life. Why should you live anyway? You’re not making an impact in this world and you’re not needed. You’re more of a nuisance than a pleasure to be around. People are annoyed with you. Just take your life and end it! You’re worthless! The devil will invoke any kind of imprecation he can use.

Stuck in my own mind, as though I were waiting in a jail cell pleading for someone to release me, someone to bail me out, I find myself in the state of delirium. Irrational thoughts fly through my brain like a firework display on the 4th of July. What’ll they think of me? They must think I’m crazy. Maybe they think I’m just playing ‘make believe’ and playing the role of being depressed. Are they taking me seriously? It’s not their responsibility to see me get better…it’s my own. But they say it’s not my fault. I want to believe it’s not my fault, however I got myself into this mess. Why can’t I get out? Why can’t anyone hear me? I start banging my cup on the bars and begin screaming for the guard. “Help! Someone get me out of here!” No one hears me. It’s silent. Is anyone else in the cells nearby? Everyone’s out playing basketball in the courtyard socializing and having a life. They didn’t let me out for recess. Maybe I’ll sit on my cot and read the bible. Maybe God can help me. Maybe He’ll let me out of this prison I’m in.

What save me are the people in my life who make me laugh and who accept me for who I am. My friends have been more than wonderful – calling and checking up on me. (Thank you Lisa A. & Heather!) Alyssa & Sue – I love you both! Madelene has seen me through the roughest part of my mini breakdown. I want to apologize to her as well as say thank you for being there for me and seeing me through it all. Amy has been a gem – in fact, our little trip to Target made it all worthwhile. (A video of that is on its way tomorrow!) So thank you Amy for being the wonderful person you are! My sister Cathy sent me the funniest video that gave me quite a chuckle – so thanks Cath! It came at a great time. This also includes my readers who give me so much support and encouragement. They share their own personal stories about how they dealt with depression, and/or still dealing with it at the present time. I just want to say thank you for being so honest and open with me on my blog. It helps to know that I’m not alone, however my prayers still go out to those who are in the same situation as I am.

I’m still not out of the woods yet, but it looks like it’s getting better! Love you all!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Home

Everything’s going to be all right. Things will look up. These are words that are said to me when I’m feeling depressed. These words are worse than saying, “Your life’s a complete disaster!” I’d rather someone say that instead. Give me the truth instead of sugar coating the bare facts with mere insincerity. No one’s there to help, they’re only out to give their two cents. And what is it really worth? It’s full of lies. “You watch, tomorrow’s going to be a better day.” No. Tomorrow is going to be the same day as today, the same day as yesterday and the day before that. “You’re PMSing.” No, not all month. The majority of my days here on earth are days filled with too many tears – days filled with heartache and the scars that I keep holding from the past. Am I moving on or am I still stuck in some torturous limbo waiting to be released? What is this? Is this a life? I can’t move and I can’t get to where I want to be. All my hard work has done what? Sure, I can give tons of advice on my website and write books that encourage people – but what about me? Is it selfish to think that I want something good too? I prayed and prayed for God to grant me a gift of some sort. Anything. I hear His answers, but they’re small – yet not insignificant of course. I want more. Didn’t God say that if we ask for something in His name that He would grant it? I want to go home.

I guess the docs in psychotherapy can call me ‘clinically depressed’. But the thing is, they can’t ‘call me that’ because they don’t see it in their office. They don’t see the gazillion tissues in their wastebasket. They never notice my puffy eyes that have spilt a ton of tears the night before because I put on too much make up to look half way decent when I walk out of the house. To some people, I can’t even ‘get God’ because I’m gay. “Oh you have to repent in order to get the great gifts of God!” Repent? Repent from loving someone of the same gender? I’ve rehashed this on my blog ten billion times before and proved my point that being homosexual isn’t a sin. We all sin – regardless. But loving another human being isn’t wrong. I’m angry and upset because everyone thinks they know how to live your life. They think this is best for you or that’s best for you – yet they don’t lift one finger to even try to help you. No one truly cares about your well-being. It’s all a self-motivated world. Even relatives, friends, lovers, whatever – they care to an extent. At least that’s how it is in my life. Am I being too critical of how others treat me? Maybe. But all I know is, I’m at the end of my rope right now. I’m done crying for hours. I’m done sleeping too much or sleeping too little. I hate that I think alcohol may cheer me up. But it will…only for a moment. I know I’ll feel like shit afterwards though, but I still reach for that drink. I want to go home.

I could blame my depression on anyone or anything that has happened in my life. “Oh it’s a chemical imbalance that needs to be fixed with medication!” Screw that! I don’t want some chemical in my system that’s going to make me gain more weight than I’ve already packed on from the depression. They really want to see me out on a ledge somewhere! I don’t want to end up in some psyche ward bouncing my head into a padded wall feeling sorry for myself. The thought of those weird nurses with the thousand-mile stare giving me my medication on a hourly time clock rubs me the wrong way. They want to see you walk around like a complete zombie. You never get better once you’re in one of those clinics. You only get worse. They make you into a whole other creature. They put you in rooms with other people like yourself or even worse – and you feed off each other. You learn how to be psychotic yet another way! You learn how you can be depressed yet another way! No! I won’t do it. I’d rather kill myself before reaching that point. I want to go home.

Prayer. You know what’s funny? All the preaching I do about prayer is true. I pray and pray and I receive answers from God. He always hears me. In fact, today I was praying to Him asking for success in my writing or whatever I come across. He said that success comes from God – and that I can’t do it alone. I read it in the bible. It was confirmation that He was listening to me. Then out of nowhere, a beautiful dove perched right outside my window cooing the most beautiful song. I mean, this is not a coincidence. I believe so much that it’s practically knowledge! I have faith that God’s right here with me right now – but I think His plan is a bit different from mine. Maybe He wants to use me as an example. I haven’t a clue. But why can’t He make my life better? Maybe if my life were better, I wouldn’t write as much and wouldn’t have an impact on some of my readers out there. Maybe I can relate better to people by being in this damn predicament. Yes, I’m angry and I feel horrible about it. I feel tons of guilt, yet I tell other people to throw that guilt away – it’s from the devil himself. If I didn’t go through these episodes of depression, then how can I help those who are depressed? Like an alcohol instructor who has never touched a drop in his/her life – how would they relate to the other alcoholics sitting in front of them? They couldn’t. So, my theory is, God put me here to suffer and to relate to those who are suffering. I hate it – yet I want to see others happy and feel relieved that they’re not alone. It’s a double-edged sword, isn’t it? I want to go home.

Our purpose in life is unknown and unpredictable. People expect so much from us yet understand so little. They never truly know what you’re going through, until it happens to them. Then they start asking you questions, as if you were the pro to the whole ‘depression scene’. I hide my disease under a welcoming smile. It’s tucked away underneath the laughter you hear when I’m out with my friends. It’s scattered in the midst of a crowd as I dance my troubles away. It never leaves me – it just goes everywhere I go. I realize it’s following me whether I’m happy or sad. It’s like the psycho stalker who waits for the right opportunity to strike! Prayer and being close to God is like having the police around you 24/7. That’s the only thing that saves me. The more I pray, the less my depression attacks me. But I have to keep at it. I’m so fatigued at times that I can barely think. If I forget to pray, then the worldly things that sadden me hit me like a ton of bricks. It’s a vicious cycle. I want to go home.

If any of you can make me laugh like this - I will be forever grateful!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Don't Go Changing...

Let’s face it, the initial attraction to someone of interest is their appearance. That’s just surface of course. The substance is more important. Everything else fades eventually. Even in my own life, I’ve always been attracted to someone who carries herself better than her initial appearance. It’s more important to me. But, I’m thankful that I have looks, intelligence, friendship and laughter with my current partner. After the looks eventually head over the hills, I’m thankful enough I’ll be left with intelligence (unless she goes senile), friendship and laughter. I want to grow old with the person I’m with. I don’t want them to focus too much on their reflection in the mirror. I want them to focus on what’s inside.

Years ago, I once dated someone you could call ‘less than attractive’. She wasn’t the type you’d bring to a nice restaurant nor introduce her to your parents. She had her own style, yet it was way too shocking for anyone in my life to accept. Why did I care so much? Why did I give a damn if someone else thought I could do better? People always shot looks at us, and then later I got the, ‘what are you doing with her’ type of response. Back then I was insecure about myself. I loved this person very much, but I cared more about how she presented herself, rather than my own happiness of being in her presence. This led her to feel bad about herself eventually. It showed. I would sometimes suggest ways to do her hair or the style of clothes she wore. She was happy and content with what she had on and felt good in it. Who was I to judge?

As I got older, I began to accept myself more. I began to like myself more, which led to accepting others more. Sometimes, when we don’t like something about ourselves, we project it on to the person we love or the people who are closest to us. We pick out flaws and call them out on their idiosyncrasies. Don’t we have our own flaws and idiosyncrasies to deal with as it is? I finally realized that it consumed me. I started to focus on my past relationships and how they were so much better. I compared my current partners to my past partners, which eventually ruined any relationship I had going. It wasn’t fair to them and it wasn’t fair to me.

Why was I so obsessed with changing the people I was with? The fact is, no one can change anyone. If you were attracted to them in the beginning, then why would you want to change them now? It’s an inner conflict of insecurity issues. I know that was my case, and it’s the case for a lot of other people too. You can’t expect someone to change. Only God can change a person. Most of the time, people try changing others to suit their own lifestyle – not to better it. It’s selfish. If you’re in a relationship and find yourself wishing your partner would change, the first step before anything else should be the question of, ‘what can you do to change how you feel about it’? You can change your mindset to accept the person as is. Of course, if you want your partner to change due to bad lifestyle habits that are potentially dangerous for them – then that’s a whole other ballgame. I’m talking ‘surface’ right now – which includes appearance and lifestyle choices that are harmless.

When I truly love someone, I want them to stay the same. For instance, I just bought my dream guitar. It’s a beautiful 12 string acoustic Takamine. I’ve been wanting this guitar for ten years. I finally got it. I love the looks, the way it sounds and the way it plays. I never want this guitar to change. Before my dream guitar, I had the sister version of it – only a 6 string. I loved it then, and I still love it till this day. It didn’t change at all. And that’s the main reason why I still love it.

I learned something else in the process of ‘trying to change someone’. The best thing to do when you feel the urge to change someone you care for intimately is to be alone for a good amount of time to discover what you like about yourself. As the old saying goes, if you don’t love yourself, then how are you going to love anybody else?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Solid Foundation

Have you ever noticed how much celebrities have an affect on people? Gossip, tabloids, paparazzi and news reporters swarm to them like bees to honey. You read stories about them, you see their life on TV and hear rumors on the radio reporting various things. You actually feel like you know them well. We start making assumptions about their character.

“Well, if Britney Spears was home with her baby instead of partying all night…”

“Did you hear that Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake are together again? They were seen at a basketball game!”

Or the latest:

“I can’t believe Anna Nicole Smith died! She was such a nice girl.” (A few months later the same person was calling her a dimwit.)

How do you know someone if you don’t have a relationship with them? If you don’t spend time with them, you don’t talk with them to great lengths and you don’t visit them at their house, then how would you get to know them?

This is the same scenario as having a relationship with God. His tabloid is the bible. You read about Him, and feel you know Him. His media is the church and Christian channels on TV. You visualize and hear the pastor talk about God, and you feel instantly that you know Him. It’s great to learn about God, but it’s better to spend time with Him and develop a solid relationship with Him.

Is your foundation built on sand or solid ground? Is it stable? What happens when you build a house on sand?

It’ll eventually sink.

People will try to instill the word of God and preach His word, adding fear and taking away peace and love as its replacement. When they preach, they sound angry and full of fury. They focus on the sins of man and only focus on negative aspects of your life. Usually, this will make the average believer run away from the teachings of God. It scares them. There is a huge difference between a “healthy” fear of the Lord and scaring someone away from believing. In my opinion, the people who preach the negativity have a great fear of the devil instead of the Lord. The way you can determine this is by just reading their work or hearing them preach. Do you feel the Spirit move you? Does it encourage you to draw nearer to God? Does it give you hope? Or does it scare you that “their God” wants to punish you and cast you off to hell if you’re not perfect?

Pure and simple, God is love.

Since we live in the carnal physical being, we are always going to sin. You may say, “Well, I live for the Lord, so I don’t sin.” There are so many other “sins” that we don’t even realize is a sin. For example, just looking at a woman in a desirable way is “just as good” (or just as bad) as sleeping with her. Every impure thought we have, whether sexual, criminal, or devious are looked upon as a sin. We are flawed by birth.

Here, let me give you a better example… What about a person who has been having an affair on his wife? It’s a sin, right? Then he decides he can’t do this anymore, because he wants to be "right" with God. So, after some time, he stops the affair and continues living with his wife happily ever after. Do you think the sin stops there? Do you think his ‘eye’ stops there? Men are meant to ‘spread their seed’. It’s instinctual for men to look at more than one woman. It’s “natural”. What about if he looks at another woman on TV? It’s still the same thing. It’s an impure thought.

So how are we ever going to be perfect with God? It’s impossible as far as the human aspects of it, however we are perfect to Him, if we trust in Him.

God knew we would stumble and fall. This is the entire reason He gave His only Son. There’s a big difference between desiring to sin and to hurt others as opposed to having a sinful nature in general. We’re not perfect – God knows this very well. People think God isn’t capable of handling our everyday trivial sins. As long as our carnal bodies are placed on this sinful earth, we are bound by sin. But by the blood of Christ, we are saved and forgiven. Jesus has paid the price in full, and I totally believe a lot of people haven’t accepted His gift. They feel guilty if they do. Guilt stems from the devil. It’s not an emotion that God gives to you.

The devil is clever. He’ll make you think negative things about yourself. “Well, God’s going to punish you if you do this! God’s going to hate you if you do that! God’s gonna throw you into hell if you think that thought!”

Eventually what does the person do? He/she gives up on God. They feel inadequate and can’t comply with the ‘rules of God’, as the devil teaches. This is the same type of teaching that radical Christians will throw at you. They want you to feel guilt and shame for everything you do under the sun. The one important thing they fail to tell you is that Jesus took those sins for you up on the cross.

If you walk into a church that only condemns their people and makes them scared of God – my advice would be to walk out and never turn back again. Don’t surround yourself with negative thinking people who feel God’s presence is only out to hurt you. Find another spirit filled church. Then who will come to God? They’ll struggle all their lives trying to be that perfect person – when in fact it’s absolutely impossible.

Reading the bible is great. But before you pick that book up, pray for wisdom and understanding. Ask God to help you understand His word. Ask Him to show you what is applied for “you”. One morning I prayed to God for Him to shine His light upon me. I wanted others to see His light through my writing or through my words in the book I published. I opened to the first page available, and it said this:

“Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” ~Matthew 5:16

Receiving the Light
No one lights a lamp and then hides it or puts it under a basket. Instead, it is put on a lamp stand to give light “to all” who enter the room. Your eye is a lamp for your body. A pure eye lets sunshine into your soul. But an evil eye shuts out the light and plunges you into darkness. Make sure that the light you think you have is not really darkness. If you are filled with the light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight is shining on you. ~Luke 12:33-36

Every morning I sit and pray to God. I spend time with Him, instead of just “reading about Him.” After my prayer and meditation, I talk to Him and ask questions. He answers back all the time. There hasn’t been a prayer that went unanswered. This is why my belief in God is so great. It’s not just my upbringing or what the preachers have told me. It’s not because others said to believe in God – it’s because I witness God on a daily basis. My relationship with God is based on a foundation that’s solid.

I received an email from a reader and friend this morning. She said, “I can see your glumness is gone.” She didn’t mean it in a bad way. She was trying to tell me that she notices that God is working through me more and more lately. And she’s absolutely right! I was backsliding for a while. I wasn’t praying as much and I was becoming really depressed and it showed in a lot of my posts. Of course we get depressed from time to time, but my writing had shown that I haven’t been coming to God all that much. Now that I have been coming to Him daily again, and even though my life still has its ups and downs, it’s so much better hearing answers from the Lord instead of trying to work it out myself. I give my problems to the Lord.

The LORD helps the fallen and lifts up those bent beneath their lands. ~Psalm 145:14

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us—they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation. And this expectation will not disappoint us. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. ~Romans 5:3-5

Sometimes, the more we pray, the more challenges are set before us by the evil one. They’re tests in my opinion. They help us do ‘endure’ and ‘build character’ as the scripture says. If we didn’t go through certain things in our lives, how would we learn from it? How would we know what’s best to do in a particular situation if it wasn’t handled before? But when we come across a new challenge, pray and ask for help, and see how it works out best for you. The devil hates it when we come to God in our times of troubles. The devil will seek any obstacle to throw in our path. Conquer it.

Don’t be impatient for the LORD to act! Travel steadily along his path. He will honor you, giving you the land. You will see the wicket destroyed. ~Psalm 37:34
A steady walk with God leads to a successful journey. If you get lost, God will make sure He finds you again if you have enough faith. When God feels that you love Him with all your heart, He’ll never let you go. He’ll nudge you to come back to Him. Focus on Him and trust that He’ll take care of all your problems.

People ask me how I deal with the opposition of other Christians. We believe differently. They throw scriptures at me and bible thump me until they’re blue in the face. I throw scriptures out there too, but only because God has given them to me in order to relate to what I’m writing. Call me psychotic, call me whatever – God speaks to me through scripture, through words on the radio or TV, and even through the words of what other people say to me. It’s truly amazing. That’s why when others come onto my site trying to make me believe differently, I can’t be swayed. My relationship with God is too strong. I listen to them, I hear them out, I let them comment as much as they want, and I also respect their beliefs, however my beliefs can’t be changed.

God uses us in many different ways. He uses the least expected in order to draw attention from people who wouldn’t normally listen to the typical preacher types. God has told me in many ways that my writing and my way of thinking will help others to develop a relationship with God – if that’s what they want.

In 1 Corinthians 15:58 – God pointed this out to me:

“My dear brothers and sisters, be strong and steady, always enthusiastic about the Lord’s work, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.”
As we pursue our God-given purpose, we do not get discouraged even when it seems that nothing is happening. God wastes nothing.

I’m a gay Christian with a lot of flaws, but by believing in God and believing that His son has died for my sins, I know I’m saved – regardless of what other negative Christians have to say about it. It doesn’t bother me. I would never say to another Christian, “God is going to cast you into hell” for whatever sin they have in their lives. It’s not my job.

The foundation of my relationship with God is solid. I feel secure because of that. If I wasn’t secure with the foundation, I’d be nervous. And maybe, I would tell the neighbor next to me that his house was sinking too. But who am I to tell him that if I’m not a building inspector? {Or God.}

Friday, February 09, 2007

Who Can Judge Righteously?

Why are we arguing?

For centuries, we’ve been arguing over religion. The same religions argue over what’s right and what’s wrong. Who’s right? Each person believes a differently from one another. Some are slightly varied from another and others are way out of the ballpark from the rest of the ‘same religion’. Christians, Catholics, Protestants, Episcopalians and other trinity-based religions read the same bible. The question is, why are they interpreting different meanings of the passages? Is it because it’s been translated so many times that we’ve lost all meaning of it? Or is it simply that God translates His word into our hearts as we read it?

I find that Christians are constantly battling it out with one another. Didn’t God say in the bible that we are not to judge one another? Didn’t He also say criticism is bad?

In this Scripture found in Romans 14:1-4, is says this:

"Accept Christians who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. For instance, one person believes it is all right to eat anything. But another believer who has a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables. Those who think it is all right to eat anything must not look down on those who won’t. And those who won’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them. Who are you to condemn God’s servants? They are responsible to the Lord, so let him tell them whether they are right or wrong. The Lord’s power will help them do as they should."

Now, it goes on to talk about the Sabbath day (special day for worshipping) and which “day” it should be. It states that it is different for everyone. People are constantly at war with what they think is right and how “you” should live. Why are they focusing so much on us, when in fact, they should be focusing on God?

No one is ever going to win a religious battle. People are strong-minded when it comes to their beliefs in God. There is no solution and no war that has been won. There have been people who caved into believing what others have preached. For instance, my friend was made to feel guilty about her lifestyle – being a lesbian. The ironic part about it was, it was her own girlfriend who made her feel that way. After a few years of being together, her girlfriend decided that she wanted to remain celibate. That’s fine. No one’s to judge another about what they choose. If they feel less guilt doing it that way – then that’s how they should live. The thing that’s bothersome is, she made my friend feel tons of guilt about expressing her love to her partner. What’s good for someone else may not be good for another. In my beliefs, expressing your love in a non-monogamous and careless way is bad. (This is my beliefs.) But if you are in a loving and monogamous relationship, then I feel it’s blessed.

Most people who believe that they have authority to ‘judge others’ refer to the book of Judges – which is located in the Old Testament. Again, as I said in a previous post, the old law does not apply to Christians any longer. We are not to judge one another and ridicule people just because we think our way is the right way. This can only lead to discouragement of coming to God. The worst sin of all is to have someone draw further from God.

My conscience is clear, but that isn’t what matters. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide. ~1 Corinthians 4:4

The Lord himself will decide if we are right with Him. No human, no ‘faithful church goer’, no fundamentalist should ever put the power of guilt upon you. They have dark roots of their own that will eventually be revealed. Not one person is without sin. But if you believe with all your heart that Jesus has washed away the old law and made you clean – then who’s to say you’re going to hell? They hold picket signs and protest against homosexuals who want to marry. “God hates faggots!” They raise them up, as if Jesus is approving of this. Right there, you know this is the work of the devil. Would God approve of such behavior? God loves all His children – including His homosexual children.

The radical extremists claim Christ, yet have the desire to kill those who are different from them. {The desire to kill}---isn’t that sinful? To hurt one another and make them feel horrible about themselves? But yet, they continue to argue and belittle one another with ammunition of the bible’s word. One will scream out one passage, and the other screams out another to back their theory up.

So who’s right? The bible says a lot of things. The bible even states that if you are married to someone who has had a divorce – then you and that person are committing adultery. Unless the other person who they divorced is deceased, then it’s blessed by God.

Again – the old law.

What about the condemnation of eating shellfish? (Shrimp, lobster, oysters, clams, mussels, etc…) Will you go to hell just because you enjoyed a great shrimp scampi dish?

Again – the old law.

What if you sit down next to a woman who is menstruating. That’s it! We’re all going to hell!

Again – the old law.

It is a common misconception that Christians are expected to live within the laws given to Moses in the first few books of the Old Testament. This includes everything from keeping ritual sacrifices, keeping a kosher diet, and sowing a garden in a certain way to wearing blue tassels on our clothes, abstaining from cross-dressing and homosexuality, and so on and so on. This was all well and good for the Israelites, but it was given to them to make their nation prosperous. Because God called them to be his chosen race (for reasons beyond the scope of this node) He provided them with a lengthy guideline on how to grow and stay strong. The Old Testament includes many things: an instruction book on how to build a nation in the ancient world, a foreshadowing of the coming of Christ, some very beautiful poetry, and a remarkable history; but it can never be taken as a binding set of rules for all people and all eternity.

This is hardly a new misconception, in reality it's something the church has been dealing with its entire life. As Paul made his missionary journeys around the ancient world, preaching freedom from the Law of Moses, a group of ex-Pharisees (known loosely as the Judases) would follow a few days behind him, preaching that Gentiles had to become Jews before they could become Christians. This teaching included circumcision, a kosher lifestyle, and generally following Mosaic Law. When Peter heard of this, he came before the Christian sect of the Pharisees, saying:

"...Brothers, you know that in the early days God chose me to be the one among you through whom the Gentiles would hear the message of the gospel and believe. 8 God, who knows everyone's heart, showed them he approved by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us. 9 He made no distinction between them and us, because he cleansed their hearts by faith. 10 So why do you test God by putting on the disciples' neck a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we could carry? 11 We certainly believe that it is through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ that we are saved, just as they are."--Acts 15:7b-11

The Mosaic law was difficult to follow to the letter. Many times, however, these difficulties arose from how the Pharisees and Sadducees interpreted the law. These men were not only the Clergy, but also the Legislative, Executive, and on occasion the Judicial branches of their entire political system. If someone wanted to know if it was kosher to tie a certain type of knot on a certain day, they'd ask one of them (they're also referred to as Lawyers). If someone had a complaint against his neighbor, they'd bring it up with them. This eventually led to a very large, complex system which (by Peter's own admission) was impossible to follow.

Paul says "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, so that no one may boast". Salvation comes by grace, not by works. If we could somehow earn our way into heaven by doing enough good deeds, shying away from the bad deeds, there wouldn't be any need for Grace. Paul addresses this issue in his letter to the church in Rome: "For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God", continuing "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord". Now, don't hear me wrong: works are an important part of faith (James even goes so far as to say 'Faith without works is dead'), but it's the Faith that leads to eternal life. Consequently, anyone preaching salvation by way of works (salvation by Mosaic Law, salvation by indulgences, salvation by baptism, etc) is falling into the same trap many pharisees fell into thousands of years ago.

Paul continues: "If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.", "Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a sabbath day -- things that are a mere shadow of what is to come", and "For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under Law but under grace". Keep in mind who Paul's talking to: young churches, mostly of a Jewish background. When he speaks of "the Law", he's referring to Mosaic Law. When he speaks of "the law", he refers to state law. (I say this so nobody thinks I'm claiming Paul says to disobey all laws.). Jesus clearly states in the the Gospel of Matthew that He came not to abolish the law, but to fulfil it. He didn't destroy the Law of Moses, he completed it. He fulfilled the prophesies of the coming messiah, He became the very essence of the suffering servant, (foreshadowed here, here, and here; reinforced here and here.)

So what laws do apply to Christians?

"37And He said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' 38 This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' 40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets."-- Jesus, in Matthew 22:37-40
From Everything2

The base of Christianity is love.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

God, What's Your Plan For Me?

For most of my life I thought my entire being was meaningless. I had no ‘part’ in life – no role to play. I grew up the youngest out of four siblings. I was the baby of the family. They even called me ‘the baby’ until I was about to reach ten years old. During my teen years, I still was treated much like ‘the baby’ of the family. I was always protected and guarded. My mother never wanted me to leave the house or go out with my friends. I’m thirty-three now (or as I tell everyone- 29) she still doesn’t want me to travel or go far distances due to the evil world out there. She’s nervous something will happen to me. The constant fear she holds in her heart regarding my whereabouts sometimes drives me crazy, but other times I’m very grateful that someone loves me that much.

Back to thinking my life was meaningless. I had to direction. I had no guidance or advice, other than, “Stay home Deb,” or “Don’t travel so far away Deb,” and “It’s snowing, stay home instead.” I was ‘safer’ in my mother’s eyes if I were to lock myself up in my house and never go out again. I had an unconventional way of thinking and direction was taken lightly. Even while in high school I took up a few art classes. I’m a pretty good artist, and yet I would fail these classes. I’m a musician – I play by ear and I would fail music class. I remember sitting in trade school for commercial art. The teacher gave me a D- for my work. I finally gave up. Art and music wasn’t for me. I guess I didn’t have talent after all. I couldn’t comply with what they directed me to do. I was a freestyle artist and musician. I didn’t like reading music nor did I like reading directions about how to draw or paint. Art and music comes from the heart in my opinion – not from learning it. You could learn about it all you want, but will you have the passion for it?

After school, I started working for a medical firm as a temp. It trickled into big corporate jobs that left me feeling empty. Where was my life going? The churches told me that I was a sinner and I was never going to make it into heaven. I’m going to fail that too? So what’s my purpose of being here? Schools rejected me, music and art classes rejected me, the corporate world ate me up and then spit me back out – so where do I go? What do I do? What’s my lot in life? I felt confused and uneasy about my future. I worried too much about my past and way too much about my future. It consumed me. I never thought about ‘the journey’ getting to where I want to be. But, the question remained – where is it that I want to go?

About ten years ago I was sitting in my apartment after losing my job thinking, “How am I going to maintain this place?” I screwed up again. Failure kept flickering on and off in my mind. It haunted me. I’m a huge failure. Nothing ever works out for me. I held a huge pity party and decided to shut the world off. I grabbed a beer and sat in my bedroom with the shades down so it could be dark as night. I cried and cried until I had no more tears left. I drank beer after beer after beer. There were bottles lying at the bottom of my waste basket in my bedroom. I have never drank in the bedroom before. It was meant for the living room, dining room or at the bar of the place I lived – not the bedroom! I didn’t care though. It was silent, I was buzzed, and I let the racing thoughts of my judgmental opinions about myself dictate what kind of person I was.

My partner came home later that evening to find me passed out with a few bottles of beer tossed in the trash can. She shook me to see if I was okay. I woke up. My eyes were red and puffy from crying and my speech was slurred and muffled.

“Are you okay Deb?” She asked, holding my face to see what had happened. All I could think was, “I can’t tell her!” But the words came out as clear as day.

“I lost my job.”

She just hugged me and said it was going to be okay. But it wasn’t. We lived check by check and the thought of having one income for this nice place wasn’t going to cut it. The bills piled up and we had no where to go. Thoughts filled my mind with questions about food and clothing. How will we survive?

So one day I sat there and prayed. I prayed hard. And when I opened up the bible, I came to this passage:

So I tell you, don’t worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food, drink, and clothes. Doesn’t life consist of more than food and clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t need to plant or harvest or put food in barns because your heavenly Father feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than they are. Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? Of course not. And why worry about your clothes? Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won’t he more surely care for you? You have so little faith! So don’t worry about having enough food or drink or clothing. Why be like the pagans who are so deeply concerned about these things? Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. ~Matthew 6:25-34

This was the time when I was first believing as a Christian. I had never read that scripture before in all my life. I was a ‘newbie’ at reading the bible. Yes, I went through the motions of being a Catholic school girl who made her communion, confirmation and other things the church thought was necessary. But with the new church I attended, (Trinity Assembly of God) – it was a new outlook on how to worship the Lord. My prayers were getting answered more and I began to ‘hear’ God talk to me in so many ways.

The next day, I told my mother what had happened. I was scared she was going to think I was a huge failure. In my mind, there was no hope in coming back home. But, she asked me if I wanted to make the entire upstairs an apartment. I was thrilled and scared at the same time. But, my prayers were answered. We ended up moving in an upstairs apartment from my parents. We were finally catching up on bills and debts. We got back on our feet. My parents were gracious enough to invite us into their home, and in return we would get cleaners to do the entire house, give them money which was voluntary and helped out the best we could. We ended up living with our best friends - my parents. So it worked out well.

During that time, I started writing. I had never written before. It started to become a new passion of mine. I still wrote music, played guitar and worked on my art and photography, but writing took over more than anything else. It started out by sharing my beliefs with other Christians on a message board on the internet. I began correcting my errors, and all my typos, because there were so many people reading my questions and answers. I was getting self-conscious about it. I still have plenty of typos and sentences that are phrased wrong, but now I have an editor to take care of that when I write books. (Thank God!)

My journal about my walk with Christ turned into a book. It explained the struggles of what I went through and how God helped me through prayer. If God wanted me to work in an office – He would have still left me there. If He wanted me to be a musician or artist, I would have been one. But He guided me to write.

“I know the plans I have for you, “ says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” ~Jeremiah 29:11

The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.” ~Psalm 32:8

So instead of worrying about my past or about my future, I try to focus on the present time – the journey getting ‘there’. If we miss out on the journey getting there, we miss out on our lives. There are so many things that happen during that process. By the time we’re done worrying about the past and the future, our lives have slipped away.

Don’t give up and never let the word “failure” settle into your heart!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Free to Be You

“Make sure you understand what the master wants.” Ephesians 5:17 TM

Living Out of the Wrong Bag
-The Word for You Today

Have you ever mistakenly picked somebody else’s luggage off the conveyer belt at the airport and taken it home? Two seconds after opening it up you discovered – you can’t live out of somebody else’s bag! You can’t wear their clothes or fit into their shoes. So why do we try to? Dad says, “Son, your granddad was a farmer, I’m a farmer, and some day you’ll inherit the farm.” A teacher warns a young girl who wants to be a stay-at-home mom, “Don’t squander your life. With your gifts, you could make it to the top.” Church leaders say, “Jesus was a missionary. Do you want to please Him? Spend your life on foreign soil.” Sound counsel or poor advice? That depends on what God packed in your bag. What if God made the farmer’s son with a passion for literature or medicine? Or gave that girl a love for kids and homemaking? If foreign cultures frustrate you while predictability invigorates you, what are the changes you’d be a happy missionary? “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Ps 139:16 NIV). God gives us eyes for organization, ears for music, hearts that beat for justice, minds that understand physics, hands that love care giving, legs that run and win races. Secular thinking doesn’t buy this. It sees no author behind the book and no purpose behind or beyond life. It says, “You can be anything you want to be.” Wrong! Don’t make their mistake. Don’t live carelessly or unthinkingly. “Make sure you understand what the Master wants.”

Plenty of years struggling to keep my corporate cubicles, I always wondered if there was something else planned for me. I wondered if this was it. A cubicle, phone, computer, an office full of gossipy hens and a boss who micromanaged me until I couldn’t breathe any longer. Is this it for me? The paycheck was always a reward each Friday, but the quality of life was diminishing. I felt an emptiness that never went away. I came home, ate dinner, watched TV and went to bed. My outlet was the gym five o’clock in the morning, shower and off to work. My hobbies were non-existent and my routine became redundant. I sunk into a depression. I hated what I did for a living, but it was the only way I could make that amount of money. Is money everything though? We all have to pay bills. We all have to keep our heads above the water. I wanted out.

Society has us brainwashed into believing that we must hold a significant status in the work force. I was much happier working as a bartender than I was working in the finance department of IBM. I felt like a drone. I walked around like a zombie and my brain completed tasks on its own – almost in a non-human like way. I remembered codes and queries as though it was normal to do this. I began to have a photogenic memory with the figures they threw at me. I knew this, but didn’t “understand” much of it. I even won awards at IBM for the timeliness and accuracy of my job. I didn’t take pride in my job - I simply did this knowing a nice paycheck would follow. I threw my happiness out the door.

Thank God my parents weren’t the type of people who said, “Well do this just like your mom did,” or “you need to do that just like your father!” My mother worked in retail for many years, which I tried because I wanted to follow her footsteps. I ended up hating it. Constantly fixing and folding designer clothes and dealing with nasty customers who belittled me. That soon ended. I’m also grateful I wasn’t persuaded to be an excavation operator, working on bulldozers and backhoes like my dad did. (And thank God I wasn’t born a boy!) I’m even more thankful that he didn’t make me work at the South Street Seaport with him. He even had a fish market/restaurant a little upstate from the city that I used to help out at. I couldn’t bare the thought of grabbing one of those lobsters. They were huge sea roaches to me.

The Future—Determined and Unknown

Everything has already been decided. It was known long ago what each person would be. So there’s no use arguing with God about your destiny. ~Ecclesiastes 6:10

“Well, that’s not a logical answer. It’s not realistic.” A lot of people would say. Then again, a lot of people don’t have faith. Sometimes even my faith dims a bit and I start thinking, “When God, when?” It gets frustrating, but I have to remember that it’s all in God’s timing. I get impatient.

Students attend college for marketing, business, nursing or physics and end up working in an office doing data entry or end up in some retail store at the mall. If you ask many of them, they simply say that this was better for them and that the courses they studied in college didn’t suit them very well ‘now’.

What’s the most important thing in life? Family. And I’d like to think that our close friends are our ‘extended family’. The people we love. In my opinion, there’s nothing better than spending quality time with the people we cherish the most enjoying good wine and good food. When people celebrate something, what do they do? They drink, they eat, and they congregate in a joyful way. To do this, most people think you have to obtain some high status job or make a good amount of money to create this beautiful scenario. It takes very little to create a comfortable setting for the ones you love.

Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat well, drink a good glass of wine, and enjoy their work—whatever they do under the sun—for however long God lets them live. And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—that is indeed a gift from God. People who do this rarely look with sorrow on the past, for God has given them reasons for joy. ~Ecclesiastes 5:18-20

“Oh give me a break – who likes work anyway?”
{To enjoy your lot in life}- meaning to have passion for whatever it is you do under the sun. Do you have passion for what you do? If you do, you’re luckier than anyone! But if you give me the answer, “Well who’s gonna pay the bills?” Well, let me ask you this. When all the bills are paid up because you worked yourself 24/7, what do you have that you can look back upon that were the most precious moments in life? Are you overworking or are you simply trying to make ends meet without living life and enjoying it?

God wants us to enjoy life. He wants us to live life abundantly and with His blessing. And even if you’re at a job where you absolutely hate it and wish you were somewhere else, try to make it fun. Incorporate your own style into your work and make people laugh. Let them know it’s okay to be human. Make your place of work fun. Then, you’ll see how much better it’ll be. I remember I started working for this company. They were an absolute drag! All of them grumbled every morning, “Mornin’………..” and I would try to lighten it up a bit and screech, “Well good morning! How was your weekend?” Okay, truth be told, some people are just too damn grouchy in the morning before their coffee. Understandable. But if you make your workplace a pleasant area to be, then everyone will want to be included.

Overworking yourself? Come home, eat dinner, put the kids to bed, tidy up before your bedtime and greet your wife/husband hello and goodnight in the same breath? Redundant routines lead to mediocre lives. I recall when I was living with my partner and she worked 24/7. I didn’t realize she was sinking into a depression. It ended up hurting our relationship because I thought she didn’t want to be with me anymore. I seriously thought that she was tired of me, when actually she was tired of work. I would get home at around 7pm, and she got home close to 8:30 and sometimes even past 10pm on rare occasions. Our bank account was plentiful, but we were both very unhappy. These days, we can now see the patterns that nearly destroyed us. We’re aware of them and it’s evident that too much of anything is a bad thing. It’s all about balance.

My balance has been off for a while. See, I don’t “give advice” on my blog and then go on being a huge hypocrite. My life is imbalanced. And as I write this, it helps me to realize what exactly is imbalanced about it and how I can set it straight again. My love for wine sometimes gets imbalanced – let’s not even go there with my love for martinis. I love to go out and enjoy cocktails with friends. But some evenings, I don’t realize how much I drank and end up waking up with a hellish hangover. I know my limits (when I’m sober) and once I hit that buzzed intoxication level, then I think, “Ah, well one more won’t hurt…” I’m not perfect.

We’re all human, which is why sin is inevitable in everyone’s lives. As long as we’re in this human shell of ours, as long as we live on this sinful earth and as long as the sun keeps shining, we will sin and sin over and over and over again.

So then, why did Jesus die on the cross for us?

To free us from the bounds of our human nature. To be what we want to be, and not let anyone else decide your destiny.

Even with sexual “sin” as they call it. We’re human – we are sexual beings. If we love someone, then what is the sin in that?

Regarding sexual sin, the bible says this:

There was a time when some of you were just like that, but now your sins have been washed away and you have been set apart for God. You have been made right with God because of what the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of our God have done for you. ~1 Corinthians 6:11

This doesn’t mean to go out and have sex with just anyone. But two consenting adults who have love one another is blessed by God. Again, it’s simply the fact that people just don’t fully accept what Jesus has done for us on the cross. It all boils down to this… A lot of people don’t have enough faith in what Jesus did for us. Do they think that Jesus’ sacrifice was inadequate or not enough? Do they even take the crucifixion seriously? I wonder. More so, I pray for them that one day they won’t be bound to the law and they come to terms to what’s been given to them out of love.

Live your life, enjoy your life and spread the good news!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Jesus Paid the Price In Full

Through faith, we are God’s children. Galatians explains this perfectly.

God’s Children Through Faith

Let me put it in another way. The law was our guardian and teacher to lead us until Christ came. So now, through faith in Christ, we are made right with God. But now that faith in Christ has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian. So you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have been made like him. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female. For you are ALL Christians—you are one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and now all the promises God gave to him belong to you. ~Galatians 3:24-29

There is a huge difference between sinning and a sinful heart. Sinning is simply being human. A sinful heart desires to sin – it wants to hurt people and deliberately wants to steal your joy. A human that sins is natural. We repent and have faith in God. We no longer go by the laws of Moses. This is why God gave us His only son. We are freed from the law.

Here… Look at Galatians chapter two verses 17 through 21:

But what if we seek to be made right with God through faith in Christ and then find out that we are still sinners? Has Christ led us into sin? Of course not! Rather, I make myself guilty if rebuild the old system I already tore down. For when I tried to keep the law, I realized I could never earn God’s approval. So I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ. I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. So I live my life in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me an gave himself for me. I am not one for those who treats the grace of God as meaningless. For if we could be saved by keeping the law, then there was no need for Christ to die.

Pretty huge statement if you think about it. “For if we could be saved by keeping the law, then there was no need for Christ to die.”

If you constantly live in fear about God’s judgment, then your faith in Jesus isn’t strong. If you truly had faith in Jesus and claimed Him as your Savior, then you would know that the old law doesn’t apply to us anymore. We were bound by the law, but by the grace of God and His sacrifice of His son, we are made right with him.

We live in our carnal bodies. We live here on earth, desiring earthly things. But if we have faith that’s strong and true, God isn’t going to just cast you away. God loves you. He knows how hard it is and what challenges we go through here on earth. This is the whole reason Jesus came for us. And, I truly feel sad when people make statements such as, “Well, you’re mocking God because you won’t repent and you keep on sinning and claiming Christ as your Savior.”

If you really think about it, those people who say that are mocking God by not trusting in Jesus’ death. They don’t feel that Jesus’ death was enough. He paid the price in full.

The funny thing is, yesterday afternoon while I was driving back home, I was listening to the Christian radio. This speaker was talking all about Galatians and how the others weren’t convinced that we were totally freed from the law. They missed the entire point of Jesus’ death.

It all boils down to faith and love. Faith in God – faith in knowing that God gave a huge sacrifice to us in order to be free! Why can’t people accept this wonderful gift that Jesus gave to us? Why are we insecure about God’s unconditional love for us? People claim to be Christians, but they have such little faith in what Jesus did for us. It almost breaks my heart that there are people out there so focused on the sins of this world, that it literally consumes them. Sin is on earth whether we like it or not.

They say that homosexuals are going to hell. They say that loving another person of the same gender is an abomination. You can read all about it in Leviticus. Again, it’s all found in the Old Testament. I can get into the whole shellfish scenario and sitting on the same couch with a woman who is menstruating, but it’s all been said before. Those sins no longer apply to us. (Christians) Those sins are the ones that Jesus came to save us from.

I’m not saying to go out and hurt people intentionally, but free yourself from all the guilt, from all the pain that guilt provides and know that Jesus paid the full price.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Simple Abundance Through God

Continuing to constantly struggle between what’s right and what’s wrong is a major challenge that everyone has. What’s ‘right’ for you may not be right for somebody else. Each person is designed and created to do different works here on earth. I’d like to think of us as the old corporate saying goes, ‘the link’. You’re an important link to what God is trying to accomplish. We need different people of various lifestyles in order to maintain balance. “Well he/she’s not living a life of God.” No one can say that. Maybe God has used you or someone else in order for others to learn a valuable lesson. We only see a small scope of God’s work, but God sees the big picture.

You were getting along so well. Who has interfered with you to hold you back from following the truth? It certainly isn’t God, for he is the one who called you to freedom. But it takes only one wrong person among you to infect all the others—a little yeast spreads quickly through the whole batch of dough! I am trusting the Lord to bring you back to believing as I do about these things. God will judge that person, whoever it is, who has been troubling and confusing you. ~ Galatians 5:7-10

When it comes to believing in Christ and His ability to see our hearts, we still sometimes rely on other people’s judgments. We’re not living a life that’s “right” with God. Who is? We try to be good to everyone, make peace and spread love. We treat others the way others want to be treated. We’re generous in what we do and we hope for the best for others. We love. We’re kind to others making sure that our loved ones and people we don’t even know are well and okay. And yes, we all have our sins that we struggle with – our crosses to bear if you will. It’s called being human. Anyone who judges the cross that you have to bear will be judged by God in due time. It’s just not our job to watch over other Christians and make sure they’re living a perfect Christian life.

I’ve even noticed a pattern that has been taken place lately. The more I pray, the more challenges are thrown my way. I first thought, “I prayed today for an hour, how can this happen to me?" But if you really analyze how evil and good works, you’ll know that once you draw closer to the ‘good’, the evil will throw everything negative at you in order for you to blame it on the good, or take away your trust in God. It totally makes sense when I think about it that way. If I keep praying about it, the challenges seem to get less and less, but they’re still there. As Christians, (especially those who are newbies), the devil loves to make you stumble with your walk with Christ. He’ll do absolutely anything to make you live a life full of negativity. Just the other day the devil through me a big bag full of anxiety attacks. I prayed. The next day, the devil threw me a bigger bag full of depression and fatigue. I prayed lying down in distress.

All glory to God, who is able to keep you from stumbling, and who will bring you into his glorious presence innocent of sin and with great joy. ~Jude 1:24

As I jot down scriptures on this post, they are not passages that I had already planned out to write. With each paragraph, I open up the bible and point to a scripture. It seems to fit with each paragraph that I write down on here. Again, like I said in my previous post, God speaks to me in many ways. Call it psychotic, call it what you will, but I truly believe that once you connect with God and put all your faith in Him sincerely, He will give you the answers.

This morning when I woke up, I had a huge anxiety attack. I was perplexed because it came out of nowhere. I was content and working on my things at home. What would have brought this on? I prayed. I went out into my car and a radio station was tuned into the Christian network. It was talking about peace and being content. The pastor said, “Calm down for just one moment and pray.” My fear subsided and I was able to concentrate on the road. I came back to the house and picked up the first book I published just to refresh my memory of what I did back then. I do this periodically. It helps me. It may also seem as narcissistic, but I need to know what helped me back then when I was in my healing process.

The words jumped out at me in one of my chapters, “I know how difficult it was for you to come here, and now I am with you. I will take all your fears away, and replace it with peace and love.”

At that time when I wrote that, I was talking about a morning where I was going to church by myself for the first time. I had agoraphobia and everything was just ‘too much’ for me to handle. Driving there was a huge scare! I remember praying, “God please take the fear away, please take the fear away!” And as I drove down the highway on my way to the Trinity Assembly Church, I kept reassuring myself that if my anxiety had worsened, I could always turn around at the next exit.

I kept driving.

A few exits later, I found myself turning onto the ramp and over to the road where the church was. I went there successfully. I walked into the church and was welcomed by the elders. They seated me in the front. Those words that I wrote up above were the words that were displayed during the praise and worship portion of the service. They put up words of the song in case you didn’t know them very well. But those particular lyrics struck a chord with me and it was confirmation that God was saying how He acknowledged how hard it was to do what I just did. I came to His house without fear. I overcame it. I trusted in God and knew that I would be safe. It was the best feeling in the world.

A steady constant flow of communication with God leads to a successful outcome in my experience. Once I stop communication with him and “life” just gets in the way, I seem to bump into a lot of challenges and frustrations. My anxiety gets worse and I feel my depression following afterwards. This is what works for me. It always has, but sometimes when I put God on the backburner, He whistles like a teapot, calling me back again. I’m trying my hardest to stay ‘in tune’ with His words and messages that He provides for me everyday.

Also, this morning I was praying about my lot in life. I prayed that my work wasn’t significant enough. It doesn’t quite pay all the bills, but it’s sufficient to where it’s “just enough”. For me, I need more. I need to have more than enough. So from God, I have received a few messages.

1.) Who knows? Perhaps even yet he will give you a reprieve, sending you a blessing instead of this terrible curse. Perhaps he will give you so much that you will be able to offer grain and wine to the Lord your God as before. ~Joel 3:14

2.) Work hard and cheerfully at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and the Master you are serving is Christ. ~Colossians 3:23-24

As I work on my second book that I’m planning to publish by the end of the year, I wonder if it’ll be enough. I sometimes doubt myself when I’m in a depressive state of mind, but I know that there’s a reason why God is using me. There’s a purpose in my life as He points out to me. And through “HIS” work, I will complete the tasks because I know this is what He wants.

Whatever you do for a living or in life, I found by including God within your daily routines, you’ll find those rewards. They may not mean winning the lottery or finding a million dollars stashed behind a dumpster, but “simple abundance” is sometimes better than being overflowed with too much of a good thing. And again, “simple abundance” was yet another message that God sent to me through the words of the television while I was praying.

Be open to His messages. He talks through many sources. The coincidences are too many in order for me to just brush them off anymore. I know He’s there talking to me, speaking to my heart. Let Him speak to yours!