christian growth

Ashes, Anyone?

Nobody looks good in ashes.  So, isn’t it time to get rid of the tradition of smudging foreheads with them? Isn’t there a neater way to start the Season of Lent?

Well, truth be told, people like the Ash Wednesday ritual.   There’s something solemn and sobering and pleasantly chilling about getting marked with ashes as you hear the words, “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.”

But beyond the drama of it, this ritual reminds us of what’s important and what isn’t.  What lasts and what just turns to dust.

During Lent we remember such things.  

While we’re sitting at a red light, with our blood pressure soaring, we remember down-deep patience is important.  Getting someplace one minute sooner isn’t.

When our minds are bombarded with judgments about our co-worker’s outfit or political affiliations, we remember compassion is important.  Being right isn’t.

When resentment makes us want to lash out or take our marbles and go home, we remember why we are doing whatever we’re doing.  Out of gratitude for what we have.  As a way to serve.  Not to be thanked or validated.

Some things matter.  Some things do not.  What matters is life giving.  What doesn’t, turns to dust.

For forty days of Lent, Christians remember this.  We open ourselves to a transformed consciousness.  As followers of the Way of Jesus, we share his power of facing any cross, even death itself.  Because we know what is important never turns to dust.

The more science tells us about our bodies, the more I understand just how complex my actions are, and that leads me to realize the heights of God’s standards. Inhibitors and impluses and addictions complicate the life I try to live, but the goal remains the same.

And I’m both challenged and humbled to know that fighting against all these things around me, but mostly against myself (my own worst enemy!), is a cross I must to bear, but it’s entirely and utterly worth the burden because of whom it’s ultimately for.

DAY 112 of 365

If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.
Luke 16:10-12 (NLT)

When it comes to faithfulness in relationships, it doesn’t start at the altar on the wedding day. It doesn’t start when we get in a relationship. As followers of Jesus Christ, it starts in our hearts. Be faithful right here today, even before your big moment comes.

1. Be faithful while you’re single
I know sometimes you might be feeling like, “what’s the use?” What’s the use of praying and seeking God about your future husband when it’s been months, years, and nothing has happened. Right now I just want to encourage you that God is still preparing you. So maybe your #relationshipgoals didn’t happen in your timeline, or with the person you thought it would happen with, but you can’t let that stop you from being faithful. Don’t let that stop you from being that woman who walks into the room and is so filled Jesus people can’t help see it! When you have Jesus you are fulfilled. You are not missing pieces because you’re single. And besides, you never know what godly man is praying to meet someone just like you! And most importantly, you never know what God is preparing you for–you just need to be faithful over the little things first!

2. Be faithful while you’re in a relationship
So often times we think that being faithful is just not cheating. But for men and women who are followers of Christ, faithfulness digs deeper. We aren’t just faithful in regards to not cheating–we are faithful, constant and consistent in all areas of our lives. As a couple, be faithful in reading God’s word together. Be faithful in establishing boundaries that glorify God and holding one another accountable about being intentional. Be faithful in building each other up. All of these things are seeds you’re sowing, day in and day out, and when you do this, your relationship is getting stronger, but most importantly, your relationship with Jesus gets stronger!

Be faithful in little things! Keep sowing seeds! They WILL grow!

Biblical context + further reading: Luke 16:1-18, Gal 6:9

Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways..
Psalm 37:7

My dear sister,

The story that God is writing is specifically for you, so let Him be the one who writes your future husband into it. Don’t worry about the pressure of other people, or even the pressure in your heart. Wait on HIM.

1. Perhaps the one person you were interested in just didn’t have the same feelings and they seem to be more interested in someone else. Maybe your friends are in relationships and you’re starting to feel like the third wheel. In these situations you might start asking yourself, “what’s wrong with me?” “Why doesn’t anyone like me?” Know that even though it may have seemed like a certain person was the right one in your eyes, God’s plan is much greater. You have to trust Him in this, even when it comes to what you imagine “the right one” is supposed to look like. It’s not all about being with that ONE guy you wish would text you back, or the ONE guy you wish pursue you. Instead, pursue the Lord and watch what He does in your life!

2. Instead of focusing on what you don’t have, Let God open your eyes to what He’s doing in your life at work, at school, at church and trust that just because other people seem to be passing you by, God isn’t. He wants to teach you and groom you and bless you in this very moment. So don’t be discouraged. Even if it seems like you were super “compatible” with a certain person, God’s plan for your life is far more compatible than what any boyfriend/fiance/husband could EVER offer.

3. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “the grass always look greener on the other side.” Just because it seems like others have it all now that they’ve found the “perfect” one, it’s not the reality! There are many struggles that come with being in a relationship. Even when it is a godly, intentional relationship the enemy will still try to attack it. So if you desire to be in a relationship that pleases God, you main goal is to know He is writing your story, and you just need to be patient enough to see who He chooses to write in it.

Biblical context + further reading: Psalm 37:7-9, Psalm 49:16, Psalm 62:5

It could be that nothing around you gets better. But He is there, extending grace within the swirling mess of a hostile world. It could be that people around you don’t change. But He is there, growing you to change when others do not. It could be that you get stuck at that obstacle once more. But He is there, having already removed every obstacle between you and Him at the cross, empowering you for so much better than you think.
—  J.S. Park, What the Church Won’t Talk About
Transgender Fury...

Maybe my hormones are kicking in, but literally everything is pissing me off. For the first few days I was like, no way! I’m going to be a pleasant peach during this! But NO. 

Yesterday I received a letter from an Aunt, the first and only negative response to my coming out. The rest of my family and friends have been so supportive and wonderful, but this one…woah.

The letter is peppered with Bible verses and wonderful tidbits like this : 

and gems like this :

and finally :

I cannot tell you how over I am hearing Christians who are ignorant to the facts and science of gender identity, spew this kind of blatant garbage. This God does not make mistakes bullshit needs to get tossed out, GOD GOD GOD GOD GOD GOD. I think ultimately its religion that is garbage.  I’ve been a pacifist all of my life, but I see now we are at war with ignorance and misinformation.

Keep in mind all of this is coming from someone who believes the earth is only 3000 years old. How can you possibly take anyone seriously who says the have “spent hours studying about this”, what have you been studying!? Christian websites opinions? Because obviously if you were actually studying anything you would come to realize that gender and sexuality is more than one gender have more “hormones” than the other? What is that shit?

I shouldn’t even be writing this because I’m still so angry. But I think it’s time we got angry, angry enough to do something.

The fact she brought Leelah up and mis-gendered her on purpose was the final straw for me. This is a person that cannot change or learn to understand, this falls under the category of “ My mind s made up so don’t confuse me with the facts” These people cannot be reasoned with. They have a mind virus that stops them from growing spiritually and opening their hearts.

My aunt thinks she offering me love by telling me all of this by saying things like:

But really what she is offering is a close mind and a closed heart. This letter and this thinking is the reason beautiful beautiful Leelah chose to walk out onto that highway that day. Her mind is made up because this ANCIENT book doesn’t talk about Gender Issues. It’s just too much! Its madness!

I’m tempted to write her back, but on the other hand I know everything I would say would fall on deaf ears. I’m not about to start trying to educated those people who think they know everything. Nope. Not my prerogative. 

I’m rambling now, all this to say, I’m over it. I’m over trying to convince these lunatics of anything, the world is changing and for the better, in their eyes its for the worst and the end times are near, but I say a new destiny is beginning for all of us and a new brighter future for all of us is on its way. 

I’m going to spend my time helping others, volunteering with youth, offering real love to those around me, and living my best fucking life possible.If there is SIN in the world, telling someone they won’t find happiness and peace in their life is a big one.

“The greatest remedy in the world is change; and change implies the passing from the old to the new. It is also the only path that leads from the lesser to the greater, from the dream to the reality, from the wish to the heart’s desire fulfilled. It is change that brings us everything we want. It is the opposite of change that holds us back from that which we want. But change is not always external. Real change, or rather the cause of all change, is always internal. It is the change in the within that first produces the change in the without. To go from place to place is not a change unless it produces a change of mind—a renewal of mind. It is the change of mind that is the change desired. It is the renewal of mind that produces better health, more happiness, greater power, the increase of life, and the consequent increase of all that is good in life. And the constant renewal of mind—the daily change of mind—is possible regardless of times, circumstances or places. He who can change his mind every day and think the new about everything every day, will always be well; he will always have happiness; he will always be free; his life will always be interesting; he will constantly move forward into the larger, the richer and the better; and whatever is needed for his welfare today, of that he shall surely have abundance.” 

Christian D. Larson

I believe there is always room for growth, and we should never be completely set in our ways. There is always something new to learn, and new experiences to grow. I believe God is constantly shaping our hearts and preparing us for what He has planned next, we need only to be willing and available for Him to do His work in our lives.
—  l.f.
Sometimes we feel discouraged because we are not “more” of something—more spiritual, respected, intelligent, healthy, rich, friendly, or capable. Naturally, there is nothing wrong with wanting to improve. God created us to grow and progress. But remember, our weaknesses can help us to be humble and turn us to Christ, who will “make weak things become strong.” Satan, on the other hand, uses our weaknesses to the point that we are discouraged from even trying. I learned in my life that we don’t need to be “more” of anything to start to become the person God intended us to become.
God will take you as you are at this very moment and begin to work with you. All you need is a willing heart, a desire to believe, and trust in the Lord.
—  President Dieter F. Uchtdorf