Monday, December 22, 2008

Conservative, Christian, Pro-life, Pro-gun, Pro-death penalty

I can't believe this exists.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Homosexuality and Christianity

I read an article today that upset me a little. I wanted to comment on it and so I did.

For anyone that knows, this is where i found the article and as soon as i commented my comment was "buried" which means that the people online at the time hated everything about it. Surprisingly enough, the guy who eventually decided he liked what i said and "revived" my comment had previously stated some pretty negative things towards christianity in the posts above mine.

Here is my comment (Please go read the article to understand fully what I am saying here):

I want to apologize to the author of this article and to anyone else who feels the same way that he does towards christianity. I think that America has done some pretty horrible things with our religion. We are at a point where our religion has become more of a manipulation technique in the midst of politics rather than a way of life. Jesus taught ways of peace and love to all of humanity, not just those of a certain race, sexual preference, or nationality. The issue isn't whether or not being gay is wrong, the issue lies in the fact that christians are called to be lovers. I believe the author of this article as well as many other members of humanity have been extremely misinformed about what it means to follow Jesus and possibly very hurt. For this I apologize. Regardless of the way politics has sadly reversed our gospel, may it be known that Jesus Christ lived and died for the sake of everyone, everywhere.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Patriotism and Christianity

There are some things I have been dealing with recently and I feel like I have finally explored this issue enough to comment on it.

The issue(s) at hand is whether or not christians should be patriotic, whether patriotism has a place in the church, and the "unpatriotic" individual.

I have tried to take a very objective stance on this issue during my time of exploring it and I must say that I do not believe a did a very good job of that. Regardless, I will try to make this commentary as objective as possible.

I have been through my fair share of rebellious stages in life. Sometimes, I even feel like I do the exact opposite of what I see everyone else doing, just for the sake of being different. In discovering the obsession/torture that is politics near the end of my senior year in high school, I developed a pretty strong distaste for government and nationality. Then, like was stated earlier, it may have been just an attempt to be unlike everyone else. But over the years I have developed pretty good (in my opinion) reasons as to why I am unpatriotic and unhappy with government. I had some pretty nice ammunition for debates with people. I was ready for debate anywhere I went, desperate to spread my distrust of the government and nation. As of late, though, I have realized that being cynical does not change anyone nor does it help anyone. So I decided to explore the patriotism of Jesus and the things we can learn about being patriotic in the bible.

One of the biggest arguments that I heard during my debates with individuals on this subject was that Jesus was not, in fact, unpatriotic. As a matter of fact, Jesus never went and protested against wars, or rallied for renewable energy sources or plotted to overthrow the government. There is even a story in the bible about the Roman empire trying to pin Jesus for not paying taxes and they ask him if he is going to pay taxes with his money. In response to this Jesus asks them to look at the money and tell him whose face is on it. Of course they see Caesars face and then Jesus goes on to say let Caesar have what is rightfully his (Matthew 22:15-22). Last year I wrote a series of letters to the newspaper back home about how income taxes were unconstitutional. When I came across this story in the bible, I was a little stunned. I didn't know what to think at first. After fighting it for a while, I finally realized that these people I was debating were right, Jesus is not unpatriotic. He may not be the most patriotic individual, but he certainly was not unpatriotic.

Here, we arrive at the core of what I want to convey through this post. If you are casually reading this and not paying a whole lot of attention, please read these next words carefully and take them into consideration. Jesus was not against the empires, but the empires have always been against him. The thought on everyones mind now, of course, is America. I think that we can collectively agree that while we may be the "greatest nation in the world", we are still largely evil and corrupt. This is human nature. During the act of communion in churches, I have realized that we tend to largely discuss that the bread and wine (or juice) is symbolic of Jesus' suffering that took place for us. However, this story only begins to hold meaning when we see which side of this story we were on. We are the Romans. We are the reason Jesus suffered. And during his suffering he cried out for us "Father forgive them, they know not what they do". Jesus was murdered because his ideas posed a threat to the empire then, and this is no different today.

Every time I think of presidents, I struggle with the things that God says to Israel during their downfall. "You are destroyed, O Israel, because you are against me, against your helper. Where is your king, that he may save you? Where are your rulers in all your towns, of whom you said, 'Give me a king and princes'? "(Hosea 13:9-10). God tries to warn us over and over again in the bible of the evil that empire brings, of the oppressive nature it has and always will have. I think that what I have come to know recently is that patriotism isn't bad, it's the idolization of patriotism that so many individuals fall into that skews our vision of God's kingdom. I urge every individual to carefully be aware of what it means to pledge allegiance to a nation. In America, a lot of the things that we do are good and honorable, however, still quite a few of those things are very against everything God teaches us. It has become apparent to me that we are, as a country, beginning to rewrite a lot of what God teaches because it doesn't fit into our agendas as the strongest country in the world. A nice example of this is something we can see in our wealth as a country. When Moses is leading the Israelites out of egypt and into the promised land, they begin to starve in the desert. During this time they pray to God for food. God then rains down manna from heaven for them to eat and he instructs them to only take "their daily bread". He says don't take more than you need to survive for one day basically. What we can see in this is that God wanted the israelites to rely on him to provide for them. Instead of doing this, the Israelites take more than enough (just in case they run out I suppose) and God then sends maggots to devour their bread that they took and as a result a ton of people die of starvation. We are at a place, as a nation, where it is possible that we need some maggots to come and show us that materialism is not the way of Jesus. It amazes me that things such as the "health and wealth gospel" even exist. This is proof enough that at least some christians are losing themselves in patriotism. Health and wealth is the american dream, not the gospel of Jesus.

It is my prayer that we begin to question what it means to be truly free. May we begin to reject the ideas that America will bring justice to the world, especially through force, and begin to rely solely on the only true king to redeem our broken world.

Hopefully my comments have been insightful. Please feel free to give your opinions in a comment.

Monday, November 17, 2008

YES! Finally. Soulmates 4 lyfe!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Iraq war casualties

As of recently, approximately 4100 American deaths have been recorded. Also, something that is not mentioned in the news, is that approximately 100,000 Iraqi people have been killed in the war.

4100 Americans and 100,000 Iraqis. Scary numbers. Is oil really this important? Would God want us to take these measures to "secure" our nation? And we want to spend more money and more time here which would result in more casualties.

Fun fact: If America stopped making weapons for one week, we would have enough money to feed the whole world for a year.

May the peace and love of God find a way to manifest itself in the hearts of christians worldwide and may we continue working towards a world of community, peace, and happiness for all individuals, not just Americans.

God bless Iraq. Amen.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

"Sell Yourself!"

Something has been heavy on my heart for several weeks now.

About two weeks ago there was a career fair in the engineering department here are NC State. For those two days everyone was dressed in suits and nice pants and ties and the whole works. It was a pretty eye opening two days for me. As I looked around at the people dressed so nicely I began to think about childhood and the things we all learn to be crucial to our being. One of these things was a little saying that went a little something like, "Be yourself". It's so weird to me that at some place between college and adulthood, this turns into "Sell yourself". Is this really necessary?

I don't have answers for that question. As a matter of fact, I struggle with this everyday. It is my prayer daily that God shape my life and use me but it seems that if I were to sell myself to any individual other than God, this would contradict the fact that we are to live our lives solely for God. I want my every move to bring praise to God's name so how do I live a life where I am only trying to please employers or anyone else for that matter?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Thought this was funny. Thanks Chris!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fearing God

Upon recent conversations and a campus crusades meeting tonight something has been on my mind. Should we fear God? What is all this talk of fear and trembling in the bible?

Before I go into this I want to make clear that in none of my posts will I make clear that I have answers or that I know I am right. I am on a journey, as we all are, towards ultimate love, peace, and spirituality. This means I ask questions and I have doubts and in this particular post I am essentially asking a question.

Should we fear God? Through conversation and things of the sort, it has been made apparent to me that when the idea of fearing God enters the conversation is when the idea that the world is a bad place enters. Recently I have heard things such as the idea that we should all fear God because he is a dangerous God and has struck people down on previous occasions accounted for in the Bible and just tonight I heard that we should be asking the question of why God has not consumed our world because it is such an evil and corrupt one.

The idea of fearing God has always been fairly foreign to me. Growing up I was taught of the love and infinite grace and mercy of God but now I am expected to grasp a concept that seems to be the opposite of where I feel that I'm at. An even bigger reason I cannot seem to grasp this concept is that it seems to be a very flawed system of evangelism. I dont know how you can expect people to listen to what your saying if your saying to worship this guy that will strike you down and punish you if you sin, when clearly, we all sin.

I think the idea behind "fearing God" is supposed to be rather than fearing him we should respect him. This is what I have been told. The example normally following this definition is a father and son relationship. The son fears the father because the father is authoritative over the son and if the son disobeys the father punishes. I believe this is a flawed example. When was the last time you saw a greedy rich guy being "punished" by God? As a matter of fact, when was the last time you saw anyone being "punished" by God? Clearly the world is flawed and corrupt, and clearly the corrupt ones reap all of the worlds benefits. But I believe the key word here is "worlds". The corrupt and the greedy reap benefits of this world and this, to any christian, is essentially meaningless.

It seems to me that in the context "fearing God" has been used around me recently, it has been a way for some to escape reality. They talk of how everyone should fear God because this world is corrupt and wrong in its ways, but it seems that the only way we will ever see a change in the world again will be through love, not through fear or something of the sort. Maybe instead of preaching of the fear of God, we should be telling of the love of God, and how if we love God we love our brothers and sisters of this world. This seems like it could contribute more to Gods kingdom than these scare tactics.

Lastly, I wanted to address something that was shared during crusades tonight. The last thing the speaker for the night said was that anyone attending this university that were true christians and living that out were his heroes because we were surrounded by enemies of the cross. I believe this to be a very offensive statement. Jesus loved all and we are to be like Jesus. Regardless of what this statement was trying to prove, we should love and respect our brothers and sisters whether they are christians, atheists, muslims, or agnostic. An enemy implies a battle against and the truth is we want them on our side at all cost. Brothers and sisters, we are all united by the cross.

Happiness is Emptiness

(The meaning behind the blog URL)

Can happiness really be empty? If so, why do we exist? Who is God and what does he do? How is he all-loving?
First, just to be clear, these are the questions that I ask myself everyday. These are the reasons that all I have is ideas. I am a religious person, I am a spiritual person, I believe in God, and most importantly, I am insignificant. It seems that this has become the basis of my faith in recent months. I find myself struggling daily with the question, how is God all-loving? To explain this problem is a common example. I find myself praying about things at times such as a friend that is sick. When this friend becomes better, I say, “Thank you God, you have healed my friend”. In the same amount of time that my friend is miraculously healed, a child in Africa prays intently for one meal for the day, but sadly dies of starvation in weeks to come.
To believe in God, do I honestly have to believe that my white, middle-class, American friend was favored over a starving child in Africa? This is the kind of thinking that is typically fostered in churches, not to degrade church in any way, or to say that any church intentionally wants us to believe that we are favored in any situation, but churches often cheapen God’s grace and mercy by labeling anything happy with God’s name. The sad truth is, the reason churches harvest this kind of thinker is that they fail to deal with tough issues such as the problem of an all-loving God. So the question is does God fail to meet the all-loving status or could it be that our idea of God is completely off?
Most Christians believe that we are to be the hands and feet of Jesus. But most Christians also get upset when any man is credited for an act such as removing cancer from an individual’s body. This idea is very paradoxical. If we are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus, and we want to believe that God is all-loving, then it makes sense to believe in a God who works solely through us and in us. A child starving in Africa says nothing to limit God’s power and love, but it does everything to show us where we are failing to allow God’s love to flow through us.
Everywhere I go and everywhere I look people are searching for happiness. Most days all I want out of life is to find happiness, but I think I couldn’t be farther from the truth in this. In a sense, to be a Christian, happiness has to be emptiness. This idea seems extremely controversial but logically, it shouldn’t be. To explain how happiness is emptiness in one question I would say something like, “When was the last time you saw a married couple that was happy all of the time?” The bad thing about happiness is that it is temporary. Happiness comes and goes and when it goes (which is inevitable because it is waged on our feelings and emotions which are also temporal) it leaves us feeling worse than before with possibly even more problems to deal with. Another bad thing about happiness, from a spiritual standpoint, is that it promotes selfishness very strongly. This explains why happiness has to be emptiness to be a Christian. Jesus says, “Love others as I have loved you”. In the hardest case, this means that I should love my enemies unconditionally. In a life striving to find happiness, this would be next to impossible.
Although happiness, in most cases, is empty, I do believe happiness exists. To relate back to the earlier question of an all-loving God, we sort-of have to believe in happiness to believe that God loves us and in the same sense, we have to believe in happiness in order to find a soul-mate that we will spend the rest of forever with. The conclusion was met earlier that happiness that is sought after is selfish and can therefore be named empty as well because something done out of selfishness cannot also be done out of love. This means the only real happiness is something that cannot be found. In a sense, it can only be given. Because real happiness can only be given and good things exist out of love and love only, then the only way to happiness is through love.
I believe that God is calling us to abandon our search for happiness.
We are insignificant as individuals. But together we are not. Therefore, may we long to make a difference, not for ourselves, but for others.