Wednesday, February 26, 2014

An Open Letter to My Girlfriends...

This is an open letter to my girlfriend(s). You are an amalgamation of many types of women. You are not singled out. You are not being put on “blast” or notice. But I want to speak to “you,” if you can consider yourself a collective, a group, a “you.”

I love you. I think you are great. I think that you have unique, special qualities that no one else will ever have. I think your eyes are beautiful. I think that the way you carry yourself is unique. There will never be another human being like you on the face of the planet. You could be someone’s twin, and your unique and personal perspective of the world is still your own. You are the only you that will ever exist. I want you to know that I see you. I do. I really, truly, and honestly “see” you.

Having that sight and being in a sympathetic, but “outside-looking-in” perspective, is hard. I see you, but I am powerless. I see your struggles, and yet, I cannot tell you how to navigate them perfectly. I want to offer support, but without directing you. And I think that the pain you endure is needless, and in some ways, self-inflicted. I am concerned for you. I am worried for you. I pray daily for you. I don’t know how to help you, other than to be a shoulder, and to pray. But I also think that you need to be told a few truths:
  • God never makes people to be copies of anything else. I’ve never known any artist that appreciated being told how to create art. I’m sure God gets pretty pissed off when you explain to Him that he made mistakes. I know you share a thousand pictures and inspirational quotes from Instagram about this, but do you read them? Do you believe them? You should.
  • I’ve never known you to be secure. Ever. I get that you were raised this way from birth, but you might want to change this before you take this behavior into your golden years. You have stated you know this, but if you are not doing anything real, or measurable to make those changes, you are just talking in circles with the same group of people. What good does that do?
  • Life isn’t something that you wait to begin. You won’t be happy “when.” You must make each moment of your journey count. Life will not be any better, or worse, or any more “livable” when:
    • You finally pay off your loans
    • You get that car
    • Your divorce is final
    • Your husband comes to his senses about your worth
    • You get shoes that make that other heifer eat it!
    • You are finally in a relationship
    • You get married
    • You get a fancier purse
    • You have a baby
    • You find a better best friend
  • Why would you ever give up your dreams for someone else’s dreams? Can they not be accomplished together, as a unit? As a couple? As a “we?” If the answer is no, then that is NOT the couple, “we,” and unit you should be in…
  • Men want a Proverbs 31 woman, and we talk, preach, and write books about it. Yet, we rarely talk about what kind of man WE need to be, in order to attract that type of partner. You will never attract a man that is worthy of a Proverbs 31 woman, if you don’t demand it. You can’t “be” a Proverbs 31 woman, and hold that as a standard-bearer, if you allow yourself to be treated as something else. If you don’t require good, fair, and equitable treatment – why would you think you are going to be treated that way?
  • Just like you have standards of how you would like to be treated, you should give that respect back. Respect goes two ways, and if you are constantly upset at how others treat you, but never at fault in your mind of how you treat others, then you have some self-reflection time to take. 
  • Grown women don’t “pretend” something didn’t happen, like they were on a child’s playground. Adults address the issue, and move past it, if possible and applicable. Forgiveness is there for a reason. Trust me, if you are my friend, I will forgive any grievance I have, but I won’t ignore it.
  • Generally, you think too much. About everything. Calm your mind, breathe deeply, and understand that as a designed, created, and unique person, you deserve the respect, time, and peace that anyone else deserves. You don’t deserve more, but you don’t deserve less. Not every single thing is about you, your business, or for you. You do not have to expend any energy on what some other man or woman thinks of you. You just don’t. Save yourself the time and frustration.
  • If you love someone, that is not always enough. I know that is heartbreaking news, but it is true. Love will not pay your bills. Love will not get you a job. Love will not put food on your table. Love will not make you live for God. Love is a comfort, and a luxury, and an extra. It is not a requirement, nor is it a right or a promise. You have been sold a lie, and you have been sold a fairy tale. You will be happier if you realize that real, true love is hard work and it is something YOU create, not fall into, or out of, or are “blessed” with.
  • Love does not always equal faithfulness. I know many men that love their partner, wife, spouse, husband and cheat like dogs. They don’t “mean” it badly. They “love” their partner for all of the home life, and things offered there, but that isn’t always enough. You need to decide you’re your acceptable boundaries are, and how you would expect to be treated, and how you expect your treatment to be received. It’s not all your fault, but it’s not all his either.
  • Yes, we like sports. But hear this… it’s because it has numbers and someone wins. That really is why… it’s not some deep rooted sexual thing. It’s not ingrained. It’s genetic and it’s how we are raised to be in power. Sports aren’t about how we FEEL. It’s binary. It’s “did you win, or lose.” Who did better? Who did what to help win? Individual, team, Olympic, whatever… sports are easy because we don’t have to talk for four hours about who said what that made them FEEL badly about a sports. We sportsed our hardest and outsportsed the other sports and won! That’s the basic reason. 
  • Yes, we think participation trophies are dumb.
  • Yes, we agree that it’s dumb to have overly-sensitive men. You don’t really like them either. But you don’t want us to be too distant either. It REALLY does confuse and frustrate us, both as your friends and as the guys you would date.
  • You assume that your ability to split a hair seven ways is also something men do. No.
  • Men are generally not good people. There are a few good ones. And there are many, many of them that strive to be the best they can. But almost EVERY man is flawed, hard-headed, and reared to be excellent and believe in himself. Men are never raised to constantly berate themselves, diet, feel less than, or fight over things that are superficial. Men are raised to be in power, and feed, and grow. As a partner to that, you need to get over the fact that you, as a woman, are generally raised to keep yourself small, and only reward yourself out of excellence, and not because you deserve to be raised that way to just naturally be powerful and excel. That is an unfortunate lie you have been taught.
  • Why would you ever argue or fight in public with another woman? Oh, honey... Facebook, Twitter, and your text messages are public.
  • Why would you consider yourself the winner if you "won" the guy in a fight with another woman? You are still the loser in that situation, honey. Your man is trash at that point. And you are not any better off for having "kept" him in that situation.
  • Why would you berate another woman on her level of what you deem is acceptable levels of femininity? You hate it when men do that with masculinity? Why would you exhibit the exact behavior?
  • Why would you constantly rotate your friends? You seem to constantly be talking about one of us, to the rest of us… I say this in love, but you always talk about your opinion on one person of the day, to all of the rest of the group is noticed, and it’s weird. That’s why people get testy. If you will talk TO us about the others, you will talk ABOUT us to the others, even under the guise of venting.
  • You will always be the other woman, until you remove yourself from that position. If he will cheat WITH you, he will cheat ON you. It is not his wife’s fault, it is his fault. Regardless of what she is, or is not, he will never leave her for you. If he does, he will leave YOU for the NEXT one.
  • You can proclaim, all day long, that you are a modern, empowered, liberated woman. Great. I think that’s just great. Go for that. Be yourself, be unique, and be excellent. But if you proclaim, that… please live up to that. 
    • Don’t back down on being a great, empowered lady, if you are just going to cry about being single. 
    • Don’t claim to be unique and how you are holding out because you deserve it, if you are making a spectacle of yourself in public by dating any old man that will give you 5 minutes of attention.
    • Don’t claim that you are excellent and a Daughter of the King, if you are allowing yourself to be used like public toilet, and then wondering why no one thinks you are marriage material, datable, or even respectable.
    • I do not think anyone should ever be disrespected, but hear me clearly… if you see a person in a police uniform, you assume they are a policeman. If you see a person in a fire uniform, you assume they are a fireman. If you see someone in a whore uniform, you just naturally assume they’re a whore. Don’t cry foul because someone thinks you are a skank, if you dress, walk, and talk like a skank.
  • If you are dating, shacking up, partnered, married, and your partner is beating you. Leave. I made the horrific and awful mistake of allowing someone to hit me, and then I hit back. And then they hit me, and I’d hit back. I should have turned my back, walked away and never looked in the rearview mirror. What happened was that I was brought to that level, acted in a completely irrational, childish, and retaliatory way and I hit back. Some think that’s fine, I don’t. I wish I hadn’t… but if you get hit. You need to move on. Period. The end.
  • If you are married, and your husband is cheating on you. Do you find this acceptable?
    • No? Leave.
    • Yes? Why? Because your pastor told you to wait? Uh, was it a man? Why? Why would someone tell you to take years of mental abuse? Why would they not counsel the offending party to restoration, instead of the VICTIM to adapt to abuse? I don’t understand that. From a male perspective, a man would NEVER take that advice or adapt to mental and emotional abuse.
    • Yes? Well, if you are into that, and he does, and you are allowed to, and it’s open and your business… that’s up to you. I don’t think that’s right, and I don’t want to know, but you do you, honey.
  • When you have a guy that loves you and does things for you and is kind to you, and treats you well and is interested in you, and you put him in your friend zone… that’s your fault. 
  • When someone, anyone, tells you who they are, you should pay attention to that and listen to what they’ve said.
    • Girls that tell you how hard they go, and how they “keep it real,” are “crazy,” or that they will “cut someone”… well, then listen to them. Heed their warning! They are telling you straight up… and when they turn that ON you… you always act surprised. Stop it.
    • Guys that tell you they are not interested are not interested. Stop analyzing every single word of every text, email, FB, or conversation. They said it. Clearly. Not interested. Slips ups, drunk kisses, drunk booty calls, using you like a toilet to get their needs met, and then STILL not committing or making any progress with you won’t change if you invite and encourage that behavior. Why would it? People treat you exactly as you let them.
    • Guys that tell you they are interested will ACT like they are interested. Don’t fall for words of love, if no actions of love are behind it.
  • You will not always get out of something or someone what you put into something or someone. You are promised that, and you are told that… but I honestly think that’s where your disappointment comes from. That’s not true. Guys learn that from sports, games, and the playground. Just because we train someone doesn’t mean they’ll perform under pressure. And if they can’t, we don’t keep letting them so that their feelings are not hurt. Because then the whole team fails. Girls seem to think that if you train someone, and they fail, then you got let down on a personal level. That had NOTHING to do with you personally. It had NOTHING to do with YOUR situation. Some people will NEVER be a good investment, and NEVER give you what you gave. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it, or that you can’t love them with a Godly love, and try to help anyway, but you can’t take it personally.
I realize that some of these are very direct and hard to swallow. I even realize that as a friend, you may think I have no insight. But I do, both as someone that’s been there, and someone that sees from a very unique perspective. I love you. I do. I think the absolute world of you. You are my mother/sister/best friend/ex-girlfriend/ex-best friend/future wife/confident/co-worker. I don’t want you to hurt, and I don’t want you to spend years wasting your time learning a lesson that you could get over in days if you focused the energy and knew that sometimes it’s just not about you, or because of you, or something you could even control.

You are great, just like you are. You are loved, whether you realize it or not, just like you are. You are going to be just fine, even if you can’t see it. And you will THRIVE in the face of some of your obstacles, even if you don’t believe it.

I love you.

#JustBeingMichael ツ

Friday, February 21, 2014

I Am So Excited About the Freedom Of Religion Bills

Hi there! How are you? How's your day going? I have been seeing so many angry posts. And I understand the right and privilege to do so. Social Media, Self-Publication, and “Everyone's Need To Be Understood” is very prevalent in our current societal construct. So, I get it. I do. I also understand the frustration. When I see social injustice, my face gets so hot. I want to cry, but I hold it back and my face and ears just radiate heat. But there are lots of people that are truly upset over some of the new bills being sent to Governer's desks lately...

But, honestly, I don't feel that weepy anger over what I've read out of Kansas, Arizona and Georgia. I know... that seems illogical. But I just don't. I do feel fear. I feel afraid, and I feel like the end result is not what people expect it will be. I feel like their zealous and anxiety-riddled legislation is not going to produce the resultant metrics to which they aspired. If legislation can aspire to anything...

I mean, I, personally, kind of love the "Religious Freedom" bills being proposed. The pragmatist in me wants to see them pass. I mean, of course, not being mentally ill and having some semblance of intelligence, the pragmatist and mischievous nature within me know that this won't end well.

(Why, Michael? Why will this not go exactly as these state legislations have ratified and sent to the Governor????)

Hon, I am GLAD you asked. Pull up a chair and read this: See, not only within the country as a whole, but on state and community levels, it will serve a purpose in separating wheat from chaff. (Huh? What's that? Well, Gentle Reader, that's when people start saying that they are good vs. bad "christians") I believe that "Real Christians" that love Jesus won't touch it with a ten foot pole. And then I believe that those that bellow on and on about it, and support it might as well past a label on themselves as those that are just "Conservatives," not truly followers of the Christ. Why such a hard stance? Why so glum? Well, I don't see where the people called out Christianity. And I don't see how any of the people that want this to become law aer anything other than "Conservative Christians" which by nature means they can't legally call out ONE religion, but they mean and intend only Christians and this will all blow up way later in lots of small ways that cause harm, and pain, and will in no way show the love of Christ.

This won't actually win souls for Christ.

So, I suppose I am at a loss of why Christians are even worrying and associating with the legislative side of soul winning. Unless I missed something scripturally about how the Acts Church, the Great Commission, and the signs that are to follow believers were to occur. Maybe somewhere in my two degrees from Seminary I missed that. Or when I completed a third degree later. Or the doctorate I'm currently working on may have missed that one, too. I am human, after all... But that's not the point. (Well, what IS your point, you long-winded...) Here IS my point: I love Christ. I am a Christian. I am a Pentecostal... As a Christian, I have to admit that these bills and what will likely stand as subsequent laws, worry me and they cause my spirit to be vexed.

First and foremost, I think that anyone that is a citizen of this country deserves to be endowed with their inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of their individual and sentient happiness. I fully support the Constitution of the United States of America and the fully support the Preamble to the US Constitution. But, let's all just face historical fact: the constitution is not scripture. The constitution is a living, dynamic document that can and should be updated as time progresses. And it should meet the needs of the citizenry of the country it serves. It shouldn't be viewed as an all-powerful, point-in-time document that men of vision created to be revered and forever shrouded in "See, what had happened was..."

They didn't found America on the principles of "Christianity." This wasn't founded as an Abrahamic, Judeo-Christian nation. This country wasn't even "founded." Let's be clear, the men that came here as "pilgrims" were coming here to colonize this area for England. That's what colony means. Territory, area, land owned by... any of this coming back to you from elementary history lessons? This country started out as a territory of Great Britain and the people were subjects to the King of England. We were basically a low-class suburb with a horrible commute that stared out so we could rape and pillage the land for natural resources, use that ill-gotten gained goods to impress royalty so we could be left alone and not get killed over stupid court issues and religious zealotry that riddled the bored upper class of 1500/1600's England. You know... kind of like the upper middle class of America today. Befuddle the working class so that they don't know the waste and luxury spent on anyone that makes higher than 250G's. (Gentle Reader: Get that right in your head, and take time to let your blood pressure go down). Christopher Columbus didn't sail here in the late 1400's a-lookin' for a better way to serve Christ. He sailed her on behalf of Spain for money, and a-lookin' for fortune and fame. Then, the "New World" opened up and England came and let the many, many issues of the Western Europeans loose onto and into the indigenous peoples of the Americas. We came here for money and stole land and killed people. We didn't come here to be the U.S.A and have ill-informed and uneducated debates. (Breathe in, hon. Just breathe. Just let all of those truths sink in. You can still love Jesus and be smart and educated. It's hard, and you have lots of obstacle, but you CAN. You can have knowledge and use it for good. You can be educated on these things and realize that Jesus didn't ride dinosaurs to the Indians and set up hetero-anglo dominion in the Americas waving flags and shooting Biblically-relevant six shooters.)

Once the "Founding Fathers" came together to BREAK AWAY from England over money, rights, and land disputes (you know, that little matter of “equal representation for taxation” or as the lower class and middle class like to call it: ' no tax breaks') they drafted a document to ensure that no one people would be ruling class, and no one people could be "less than" or "others." Well, that's not exactly true of the time... you were not "less than" if you are a free, white, heterosexual male of means. If you were white, but Irish and an indentured servant or a share-cropper. Uh, bye, gurl... Get yo' po' butt back to your shanty. And unless you were a woman, black, Jewish, immigrant, Irish, Italian, alleged witch, or some type of "other." But these all-knowing, revered, misnamed, "founders" didn't mean to be that way; they were just men of their time. See, that's why all those updates to the Constitution and THAT'S how we got all of those nifty ammendments, but that's a whole 'nother socio-political history lesson.

Back to the "Christian Founding of 'Murica'" - So, these "founders" were mostly a non-Christian group. They were Deists. There may have been a Quaker or two thrown in the mix. I recall that there were lots of Anglicans. But they were not what you'd see on TBN, PTL, 700 Club, Focus on the Family, etc... And thank GOD for that! Otherwise, we'd likely never have gotten this country off of the ground. Although, some did enjoy a garish wig or two! ;) However, fashion-of-the-times aside, what they did do was ensure that regardless of your beliefs, as crazy as they might be; you were entitled to hold them! And they ensured that while the PUBLIC SECTOR has to hold to strict guidelines that ensure that all of the citizenry are treated equally, they do allow for the PRIVATE SECTOR to behave as it will. You can refuse service to anyone for any reason, to this very day. You won't need any new law for that...

I would also like to point out that being a Christian is a true belief construct and a resulting lifestyle that follows the tenants of your professed faith. You cannot merely verbally assert your faith in Christ, without the subsequent and very real "works" that follow it. (i.e. the tenant that 'Faith Without Works Is Dead'). And, furthermore, and quite ingeniously on God's part, you cannot win salvation BY works, only through faith, therefore, to (proudly) hold that title, you must have faith in Christ, the divinity of Christ, and then through that faith, you will have the lifestyle of a Christian and the works that follow someone that professes such. Being affluent, white, and voting conservative does not make you a "Christian." Just like overall, "Conservatism" does not inherently equal "Christianity."

The favor that truly occurred generations ago with our “founding” fathers is that they clearly sought the separation of Church and State. This was fresh in their minds, due in large part to the debacle that England had faced with Catholicism, Protestants and a resultant Church of England. That may be a bit too much history for some, but it's the truth. As Elizabeth noted after her staunch Catholic sister died: “People have to be able to live as God directs their conscience.” For example, as a Christian, I am all for prayer in school. But, where I differ from most Southern, Bible-Belted, White, Conservative, Christian folks is that I am not for school-led prayer. I am not for anyone leading children, save their parents. I don't have children, BUT IF I DID, I'd not want them to be anything other than the religion I raised them to be. I believe what I believe because I've done my research and I have eliminated the options I feel don't suit me, or would not suit MINE. And, while I believe in the citizens' right to pray whenever, wherever, however they want to, I don't think it's anyone's business to tell me when or where I can pray. If you want to pray in the bathroom, in your shower, in the car, on the bus, at school, in a meeting, at your desk... do it. And I think the Government should allow it and stay out of it. I also think work should stay out of it, or give leeway and some privileges to that. But realize this... prayer in school doesn't naturally equate to a Christian prayer to what is commonly accepted as the Judeo-Christian God, Jehovah, Creator, I AM, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. If you don't want your children exposed to prayer from other religions, cultures, and beliefs, or to be exposed to teachings that may derail them from what you want instilled in them at home - well, then you should probably support the separation of Church and State.

Please realize, I am a Christian. I am not even what most would call a "mainstream" Christian. I am a Pentecostal. I believe in Oneness. I believe in the full divinity of the Christ. I believe in the supernatural, God's omni-attributes. I believe in the Holy Ghost and being so full of God's love and full of God's Spirit that signs and wonders follow. I want the continued freedom to not only believe that, but to practice that. I want the freedom to gather with other believers that practice that. But, I understand that Freedom of Religion means freedom of ANY religion, freedom of ALL religion. If I expect tolerance (not necessarily a 'celebration' of my difference, but tolerant, benign, goodwill and being left to attend and worship as my conscience and God direct) then I have to be willing to extend tolerance. There is an old story about "When They Come for You."

But that does beg the question: "Why?" Why is this considered an affront to minorities? Why get all uppity? Why is this such a big deal? Why do non-white folks and non-straight folks even care? Is this an infringement of one set of civil liberties while ensuring a different set of civil liberties?

Yes and no.

I think that every citizen has been endowed with the right to pursue thier civil liberty. I think that if you are a grown adult, non-indigent, pay your own bills, and of sound mind and health, that you have every right to worship as the Creator dictates to your conscience. I think that, for me, that means I will attend Pentecostal worship services, give of my time, money, and goodwill toward that end. I will support them and promote them. I will pray for them, I will endorse them. That does not mean that I will lobby to have Presbyterians and Lutherans shut down. I will not tell my Senators that Baptists are TV-watching hussies that can wear lipstick and should be shunned or legislated into submission. I have never asked that my non-Pentecostal friends or even those that are just not "Godly" enough be limited by government exception, or treated differently on a personal level. I don't buy into that due to my personal Christian faith, and what I pray is a Godly example in my walk with Christ. Yet, if called upon to document those actions, I'd be able to point to scripture and verse. I'd be able to quote them in multiple translations, with historical context references, and I'd be able to hang all of the law on those references. Would you?

The bottom line is that the government cannot legislate morality. Moral and ethical responses to any myriad of topics will vary as much as any person. You may be 7 of 10 on this, or 4 of 10 on the next one. You may be either progressive or conservative or anywhere in between on any topic and come up with an overall range of "where you fit." But, hopefully this Freedom of Religion Bill in various states will allow for States' Rights to allow the good Christians that are living by the Bible to eschew any "Bad Christians" that are not quite up to snuff.

You cannot legislate spirituality. A person's personal faith that guides their moral compass and dictates tenants of belief cannot be mandated, cannot be regulated and should not be legislated. God is the great judge of a human heart, and God is the one that knows the truth, even when lies are spoken. God knows intent, even when your words are kind, and the result is cruel. Maybe these bills can shed light on what God really, truly meant when He called on us to judge others. We are called to judge the fruits of others and to be as wise as serpents in our daily walk for the Lord. These pieces of legislation may truly help every religion to have that measuring stick of what is intended. The government authorized, legislated code of conduct on what a good "Christian" should be before service and social acceptance may occur.

You cannot regulate stupidity. You just can't.

The very people championing these causes will wake one day to realize that they are, in fact, the minority: racially, spiritually, ethically, socially, and they will be in fear. They will realize that they gave away their OWN freedom when they sold everyone else's. The law is clear that you must have documented proof that you are put out, hurt, and offended by someone else to deny claims under this law and religious freedom. Everyone will now be on trial. You can claim religious freedom, but in court, your paperwork must stand up to scrutiny. Your personal life must be above reproach. Your past, and all of your prejudices, proclivities, proactions, pride, and problems must be able to withstand the harsh glare of public consumption. You think the guise of this bill will protect you while you give out general platitudes of your convictions and how you use it divisively, but it will unite us all as we all splinter and fail while everyone polices everyone else. We will all feel the sting of being turned away due to someone’s “religious freedom.’

An example of this very method was on a message board about these very bills. The topic was religious freedom. The clear secondary topic was legislation, and the majority of the commentary was about gay marriage. Um, not exactly the neither desired topic, nor what the "journalism" had been about. But one comment of note stated: "Jesus said one man one woman. If your a Christian, you follow Christ." That comment had 72 likes at the time. Obviously the commenter meant that on the topic of marriage, scripture defines marriage as one man and one woman, bound together, faithful, and that they serve the Abrahamic, Judeo-Christian God. They meant that Jesus stated this at some point of his earthly ministry, and that if you were to claim the banner of Christ, and use the term "Christian" to identify yourself, then you follow Christ's teachings and his wording.

Sadly, I am forever going to have my diagnosis of OCD and I was immediately drawn to the fact that they were unclear, didn't use context, and had poor grammar. *said marriage was... *you're *the teachings of the... Let's be honest, the Devil is in the details. And we all know that even the Devil can quote scripture. And even the devils believe in God and tremble with fear... so, take what I am about to point out to you with either... learning or a grain of salt. My goal isn't to force you to agree with me, bolster me, or believe what I believe. My job, and my only job, is to spread God's Word, and give an honest account of what I interpret that to be. Take that as humbly as you will.

Nowhere did Jesus talk about homosexuality. There is ONE vague possible reference in the use of the word Raca where he is protecting people from being bullied by the possibly slang translation of the word Raca which might have been a word like "fag." He did talk about the silliness of the "Church Leaders'" questions when wanting to know about folks with multiple marriages and writs of divorce. And he did talk about the divorce decrees under the law. He did talk about Heaven not being bothered by marriage and that those fortunate enough to make it "neither marry, nor are given in marriage." That's it in all of the research I've ever encountered.

Jesus said nothing. But he spoke volumes when He gave His life.

You know who DID talk about marriage a lot though was Paul. He clearly had his issues, and there are tons of things he wrote over his ministry - specifically about marriage in 1 Corinthians 7. He wrote of how marriage was for the husband and wife, and those seeking God should try to stay single, to focus on God, unless they just HAD to consummate relationships, then it was better to marry than to burn. He spoke to Timothy of the office of the Bishop and how they should only have one wife. Now does that mean polygamy? Or does that mean never divorced, or remarried after issues or even a death? If you are to pastor and carry that burden, what is your role in your personal relationships?

There really are few words given on that, other than those I've pointed out. Yet, I've seen so many pastors divorce and remarry and continue to serve the Lord in an official capacity. Some may have even led places of learning for ministry. They may have been extremely vocal conservatives and ranted and raved about holiness, but what of their literal following the letter of the law when tragedy, divorce, and scriptural detail come up in their lives? What of their ex-spouses that go on to other successful marriages and careers and continued ministry? Some even have blended families. Some go on to continue to pastor and carry the title of "Bishop." Some have spouses that die and then remarry to avoid being alone. Scripture offers no loopholes for this, yet, the stigma of those issues has passed with time. Why? There is clear and definite scripture associated against that. So, I guess under this law, if your third wife offends the arranged marriage of the Muslim you hire to work on your home, should they notify you that your sin and your blatant disregard of marriage law in scripture is an affront to them before they deny you service? Or can they just say no?

What if your stricter churches did that to the more relaxed churches? (Specifically, the drinking of alcoholic vs. non-alcoholic beverages for Communion). Some of the people like for THEIR blood of Christ to be non-alcoholic. And some believe that if you truly want to see Jesus, it's wine, not Welch's! Yet, Proverbs clearly states that wine is fine, just not too much. Jesus used His very first miracle to create wine, and anyone that's a Bishop has to abstain from "strong drink." How will the courts interpret these in the disputes and varied responses under "religious freedom?" Or is all of this moot because it really is to specifically discriminate?

For instance, you can choose not to hire gay people, and you can be offended by their marriages. But you must have documented proof that your religion thinks this is sacred and that you, personally, adhere to this. Maybe you think "sexual sins" are worse than other sins in the Bible. And let's make this real for some folks... maybe YOU are very vocal in your Facebook posts about how you "just can't fathom why gays exist" or "why would two guys love each other" or how you, in your present state cannot even imagine not living for God. Well, hon.... let's be clear, you SURE could "fathom" not living for God when you got pregnant in the back of a car before you were married. #Bloop You "fathomed" a few sexual sins were when you have multiple partners before you found "the one" and conveniently forgot how big of a whore you were dancing on table tops in downtown Jackson.

Or, if we need to, we could look at how you pontificate on how those pesky "special rights" gays need to quieten down because they are "okay to know," and you even "have some as friends" but don't let them get all "in your face." Aww, that's cute dude. I remember when you were the biggest loser in class. And even though, for instance, if you are now divorced because you had an illegitimate baby due to an affair - then maybe you shouldn't be championing Chick-Fil-A and be all "Rah Rah" about how awful gay men are for marriage. You should probably worry about where YOU are failing your first wife. Oh, and your bastard child. And how if you marry again you are technically committing adultery, causing your new "virgin" to commit adultery and that either of you should be allowed in church services, or you should relinquish your role as a minister. Right???

*cue crickets* I mean, let's only uphold these and truly pass these amazing bills if we are going by scripture or as my early commenter pointed out "What Jesus Said." Or if you really don't want to have to serve someone of another religion because they are just full of hate for Americans, then maybe you should realize that you can't use the N-word, or the K-word, or the R-word, or any number of other issues. This will go both ways. You will lose YOUR ability to be yourself, under your religion the very instant you regulate and legislate someone else's ability to be themselves under THEIR religion...
  • Or maybe you shouldn't be so gung ho to hate on Muslims or Jews. Under this law, they can refuse service to you, as well. Where would you get your diamonds???
  • Or maybe you think interracial marriages are sinful and we can FINALLY begin to refuse service to those couples and their gorgeous, mixed children.
  • Or maybe you think women should only work in the home, and be subservient to their male spouses. Because someone that thinks that could refuse to hire a woman, even part-time. That might ruin your two-income household. Who would clean the office buildings then?
  • Or maybe you think any number of things that your religion wants YOU to know. Like, dress codes, what is acceptable to watch, where it is acceptable to go eat, to go shop, to live, to recreate... if you don't adhere to those, and document how you adhere to those, how can you prove in court why your religion means so much to you?
The bottom line is that anyone can argue the legal perspective. The bottom line is that anyone can talk about being lawful. The bottom line is that anyone can live under the law and with legalistic attitudes. The bottom line is that the Pharisees and Sadducees lived under legalism.

So, after all of this... what DID Jesus really say? Here's what Jesus really said:
  • 1 - Love God with all of your heart, your soul, and might. Love God. Period.
  • 2 - Love your neighbor, as yourself. Period.
After this, ALL of the law hangs on these two commandments. You can live the law to the greatest detail, and you can miss the relationship with God. You can live the law and be perfect, and still bust hell wide open for not knowing, and not having a relationship with, God. And if you have a relationship, God will clean you up, you don't have to clean anyone else up. That's God's job, not yours. And if you have a real relationship with God, you will love people. You will love their souls, and you will worry for them, and pray for them, and hope for them, and have compassion and love for them. Like Jesus did. Like the Christ did. Like the founder of our faith did. You won't be cruel. You won't be over-bearing or take joy in their correction or failure of tenants of the faith. You will love them and work to restore them. You don't take joy in completing the Devil's task for him. You don't side with the Accuser.

These are scary times and we are fearful of everyone. We are fearful of next steps. We've sold our future stability for present luxury. It's right to be fearful. But God has this and God is in control. What does that even mean? I can't predict the future, but I know who holds the future. What is the right thing? What is the good thing? What is the proper and most Christ-Resembling thing?

Be kind.
Be respectful.
Be honest.
Be loving.

Kindness is never the inappropriate reaction. Compassion and empathy is never the wrong choice. You can be the strictest of conservatives or the most liberal of progressives... and you can be the cruelest to your fellow humans in your march for your ideals, regardless of what they be. What you can do, is be kind. What you can do, is allow others to see that regardless of your obvious differences, you can show compassion. You can show kindness.


Monday, February 10, 2014

There's Just Something About That Name

"Kings and kingdoms will all pass away, but there’s something about that name.”

I’ve blogged before that I find the great dividing line between “christianists” and “Christians” to be people that are not afraid of the name – people of the name, if you will. Everyone that wants to be politically and fiscally conservative usually claim that they fall in the realm of “Christianity.” But, if I’m just being honest, just having those values doesn't make you Christian, and more often than not - having those values will ensure that you don't act very much like a Christian.

That line that will cause a conservative or a progressive alike, a Republican or a Democrat, to shift uncomfortably in their seats… any of them – is the name of Jesus. People tend to think that only they are privvy to having a label, to being saved. They like to think only "their" kind or their denomination, or their level of being conservative is right... but the relationship - that's the key!! Do you have the name? Are you baptised in the name? Are you walking, living, and proclaiming the name? There IS something about that name. There is something to be said for the power it wields and the peace it brings. You can serve and do great things in service, and never know the owner of that name. You can spend your entire life doing for others and miss the understanding that the name brings.

It’s the name that matters. It’s knowing the owner of the name that matters!

Philippians 2:5-11 “The attitude you should have is the one that Christ Jesus had: He always had the nature of God, but he did not think that by force he should try to remain equal with God. Instead of this, of his own free will he gave up all he had, and took the nature of a servant.
He became like a human being and appeared in human likeness.
He was humble and walked the path of obedience all the way to death—his death on the cross.
For this reason God raised him to the highest place above and gave him the name that is greater than any other name.
And so, in honor of the name of Jesus all beings in heaven, on earth, and in the world below will fall on their knees, and all will openly proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

The Bible ascribes many different names to Jesus, all of which provide great insight into His character and person. In biblical times, Israelites would choose a baby’s name based on the child’s characteristics or a hope or prayer of the parent. The names given to Jesus tell a great deal about His ministry on earth roughly two thousand and some twenty years ago. The scriptural names describing Him reveal who He was and is and will be for eternity. These, in their rich variety, throw light on either the person of Jesus Christ or on some aspect of his ministry.

Titles relating to Jesus Christ’s identity
The Exact Image Of God:  Heb 1:3 See also Jn 14:9; 2Co 4:4; Col 1:15
The First and Last, the Alpha and Omega Rev 22:13 “Alpha” and “Omega” are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. See also Rev 1:17; Rev 2:8; Rev 21:6
The Word of God Jn 1:1 See also Mal 3:1; Jn 1:14; 1Jn 1:1; Rev 19:13
The Last Adam 1Co 15:45 See also Ro 5:14
The Bright Morning Star Rev 22:16 See also 2Pe 1:19
The Rising Sun Mal 4:2; Lk 1:78
The Living One Rev 1:18 See also Jn 5:26; Jn 11:25
The Amen Rev 3:14 See also 2Co 1:20
The True Light Jn 1:3-9 See also Isa 9:2; Lk 2:32; Jn 3:19-21; Jn 8:12; Jn 12:46
The Righteous One Ac 3:14 See also Jer 23:6; Jer 33:15-16; Ac 7:52; Ac 22:14
The Lion of Judah Rev 5:5
The King of the Jews Mt 2:1-2; Mt 27:37

The “I am” sayings of John’s Gospel
In John, Jesus had the “I AM” sayings, or really statements about exactly what He was. Jn 8:58 See also
The Bread of Life (Jn 6:35)
The Light of the World (Jn 8:12; Jn 9:5)
The Gate (Jn 10:7-10)
The Good Shepherd (Jn 10:11-14)  
The Resurrection and the Life (Jn 11:25)
The Way (Jn 14:6)
The Truth (Jn 14:6)
The Life (Jn 14:6)
The Vine (Jn 15:1-5)

Titles relating to Jesus Christ’s ministry
The seed of Abraham Gal 3:16 See also Ge 12:7; Ge 13:15; Ge 24:7
The Root and Offspring of David Rev 22:16
The faithful witness Rev 1:5 See also Isa 55:4; Jn 18:37; Rev 3:14
Immanuel Mt 1:23 See also Isa 7:14; Isa 8:8
The capstone Mt 21:42 pp Mk 12:10 pp Lk 20:17 See also Ps 118:22; Ac 4:11; Eph 2:20-21; 1Pe 2:6-7
The rock 1Co 10:4 See also Isa 8:14; Isa 28:16; Ro 9:32-33; 1Pe 2:8
The bridegroom Jn 3:29 John the Baptist describing himself as the bridegroom’s friend, and Jesus Christ as the bridegroom. See also Mt 9:15 pp Mk 2:19-20 pp Lk 5:34-35; Mt 25:1-10; Rev 19:7; Rev 21:2
The firstborn among many brothers Ro 8:29
The first fruits 1Co 15:23
The firstborn from the dead Rev 1:5
The heir of all things Heb 1:2

Titles relating to Jesus Christ’s authority
Lord Ac 2:25 See also Mt 7:21; Lk 6:46; Jn 6:68; Ro 10:13; 1Co 3:5; Col 3:23; 1Th 4:16-17; 2Pe 1:11
The head of the church Eph 1:22-23; Eph 4:15; Eph 5:23; Col 2:19
The Chief Shepherd 1Pe 5:4 See also Mt 2:6; Mic 5:2; Jn 10:11; 1Pe 2:25; Heb 13:20
Prince Ac 5:31
Rabbi Jn 1:38,49; Jn 20:16

Titles emphasising Jesus Christ’s saving work
Jesus: the Lord saves Mt 1:21
Man of Sorrows See also Isa 53:3
The Passover Lamb 1Co 5:7
A Horn of Salvation See also Lk 1:69
The Consolation of Israel Lk 1:68; Lk 2:25,38
The Deliverer and Redeemer Ro 11:26; Isa 59:20
The author and perfecter of salvation Heb 2:10 See also Heb 5:9; Heb 12:2

Titles stressing Jesus Christ’s mediatory status
The Mediator 1Ti 2:5
The High Priest Heb 3:1 See also Heb 2:17; Heb 6:20
The Son of Man Lk 19:10 See also Mt 11:19; Lk 5:24; Jn 3:13; Jn 6:53; Ac 7:56; Rev 1:13

Jesus. There’s just something about that name.


Monday, February 3, 2014

Love... in any langauge

Why so much anger, Facebook? Twitter? Why so much confusion and dissention about drug addiction and the worth of a life? Why is one person's addiction less offensive than yours? Why so much anger about the use of foreign language in an overpriced marketing ploy for a global conglomerate to sell you a product that isn't good for you?

This may be breaking news for some, but a person's life is always worth something - even if it's just a lesson to you on what NOT to do. Love is always appropriate and kindness is never the wrong choice or the wrong answer. Even if you can't translate the words, the meaning is still the same.
In 1986 this song was released and I've loved it ever since. The words seem pretty prophetic for today:

"Je t'aime"
"Te amo"
"Ya ti-bya lyu blyu"
"Ani o hev ot cha"
"I love you"

The sounds are all as different as the lands from which they came
And though the words are all unique, our hearts are still the same

Love in any language, straight from the heart
Pulls us all together - Never apart!
And once we learn to speak it, all the world will hear
Love in any language, Fluently spoken here!

We teach the young our differences; yet, look how we're the same!
We love to laugh, to dream our dreams, we know the sting of pain
From Leningrad to Lexington, the farmer loves his land.
And daddies all get misty-eyed, to give their daughter's hand.
Oh maybe when we realize, how much there is to share.
We'll find too much in common, to pretend it isn't there.

Love in any language, straight from the heart
Pulls us all together - Never apart!
And once we learn to speak it, all the world will hear
Love in any language, Fluently spoken here!

Tho' the rehtoric of government, may keep us worlds apart -
There's no misinterpreting the language of the heart

Love in any language, straight from the heart
Pulls us all together - Never apart!
And once we learn to speak it, all the world will hear
Love in any language, Fluently spoken here!

#JustBeingMichael ツ

Two Gates

Fuddy duddy.
Papaw, or Mamaw.

Do these sound familiar? Do these apply to you? Do these negative sounding words and phrases make you cringe? Do you get tired of explaining why you don't "do something?" I don't do this... I don't do that. I think it's a sin to [insert any number of things you might think are a sin.] You don't have to even condemn others anymore to be considered any of the aforementioned words. Your very witness of living your own life begins to be a sensitive topic. People want the lowest-common-denominator to be "their" viewpoint. It's no longer enough to be friends with someone of a differing opinion, religion, or viewpoint anymore. It is not enough to be tolerant and respectful anymore. It seems that if you don't affirm and celebrate every person's choice - you are now the bully. You are now the bigot.

The problem is, that you are not wrong. Human nature rears its ugly head and every emotion from jealously, to anger, to conviction, to pride will surface when confronted with a mirror that causes us to see flaws. We justify our actions. We rationalize our behaviors. We submit case study after case study about "why" we don't want legalism in our lives, and how love draws people to Christ, not condemnation. All of those are true, by the way. Yes... all are true.

Have you ever been accused of being a narrow-minded Christian? Usually, that is considered an insult. And we, as Christians, haven't really done much to have good PR in the past few decades. There are certainly enough "christians" out there giving us a bad name. That angers me, on many levels, and I whine to God about it. I cry out that it's not fair. Just because someone is conservative, white, and has money... that's not the barometer for being a good Christian. That does not equate to Christianity. It really irks me when people that go to church and have some cash, and have conservative values, and rail against anything that seems socially progressive is considered "the right wing," or "conservative christians." They've appropriated Jesus and misrepresented what the cross, and salvation, are all about. They have no problems stating what they are against, but not what they are for...

And hear me, fellow true Christians, fellow true believers: we've not done our fair share of the Golden Rule, nor the Great Commission. That's sad. That's really, really sad. I am indicting all of us, because we've been complacent. We've allowed Christ to be used as a political pawn, and forgotten that he came to save us. He came to heal us. He came to give us a way out of our lives of sin and most-assured death. Some of those values overlap, but conservative values alone does not a Christian make. Generally, I find the great dividing line the name of Jesus. Once you really throw that out there, conservatives and liberals alike will balk at the name. They will want no part of the name. They consider someone willing to really follow the social, political, and spiritual teachings of Christ a crazy person, a fanatic, or a kook. They will wear a button once a year about not using an "x" in Christmas, but they refuse to wear the name of Jesus in baptism or on their heart when it comes to their daily business interactions. It shows in how they treat the poor. It shows in how they treat those lost in sin and that need physical needs met before you can even begin to get them focused on what a spiritual need might be.

Yes, we are the fanatics. We are those that want to live a consecrated life, and to know the Christ. We want more than just some country club version of an insulated bubble world... But, those who level such accusations against us certainly mean it as an insult. Yet, for the true believer and the true Christian, it's not an insult. According to Jesus, that’s the only way to walk if we want to experience abundant life now and eternal life with Him in heaven. We are to be in love with God and Jesus more than anything, and through that love and our experience with the Christ, we are to show love to the world in a way that would make them want their own experience with Christ. It's hard to show them something different, if they can't tell you apart from themselves. I don't mean your hair, or your skirt, or makeup, or shorts, or tattoos, or earrings, or even your choice of entertainment, or if you abstain from alcohol or smoking. God is a "Big-Enough-God" to convict you of any and every sin that you, personally, should be doing or not doing. That's not my call, or anyone else's call. But, if you choose to live holy and if you choose to abstain from things that you feel convicted over, you can expect some peer pressure or questions about it. People get curious as to why you won't do something, and feel personally affronted if you lay it out there that you don't want to due to personal conviction. Sadly, and not so incidentally, you can expect some not-so-nice responses from family and friends. Trust me; I'm going through it daily now.

At the end of the day, there are two choices you can make. There are two gates, and two ways: Follow God, or not. Listen to God, or not. Follow through on your personal convictions, or not. It's not rocket science. You don't have to fast, consult three preachers, your bishop, the head of ladies' auxiliary, and all of your friends about it. You don’t' have to worry and toss and turn. You can listen to God, or not. But it will require a deliberate choice on our part, because no one automatically drifts onto the narrow pathway. Humans naturally drift toward the easy path.

Matthew 7:13-14 “Go in through the narrow gate, because the gate to hell is wide and the road that leads to it is easy, and there are many who travel it. 14 But the gate to life is narrow and the way that leads to it is hard, and there are few people who find it."

The broad way is easy to find. In fact, unless you make a conscious choice to avoid it, you’ll find yourself on it. Most people like this wide path because it encompasses all philosophies and belief systems. Everything is acceptable, and everyone’s “truth” is valid. It is very comfortable. You don't have to explain yourself, you just smile and nod and go about your business. Everyone and everything is correct. We are all on different paths to the same place. We are all correct. We are all right. No one is to be offended, or even inconvenienced as we walk this path. Christians get "replacements" for all of the things the world has to offer. You may not allow your kids to listen to secular music, but trust me... dark rooms, smoke machines, and light shows that emulate the same environment as a "club" don't feel very different than when I've been in a real club. Don't offend them, though. Don't be too direct about it. You are then someone that has no compassion, you are a bully. You are a bigot. If you don't do something, and you don't let your kids do something, you are in the dark ages. You are a relic. You are something to be marveled at because "it's too hard for this day and age..." But what are you for? What do you have? Don't focus on what you cannot do, or what God isn't please with in your life. What can you do? What do you have? What is inside you that many people will never know and never be able to comprehend? Trust me; everyone will focus on the negative aspect of this blog. People will think I am writing this from a negative place because it will allow them to scoff, make a choice that they are comfortable with, and move on. Some will block me from Newsfeeds, unfollow my social media. Some will say this wasn't wrestled with, that I've slipped back "into legalism" or that I am advocating "against" something or someone. Nope. None of the above. I'm celebrating what I've gained. People will focus on that that soothes though. They will say that love doesn't condemn. Love doesn't hurt feelings. Love doesn't give pause.

You know what else love doesn't do... love doesn't lie to you. Love won't let you go make mistakes, even when you get mad or throw a tantrum. Love makes you eat your vegetables and grow strong, even when you just want what's bad for you. Love makes sure that when you have messed up and have no recourse that you are picked up, washed off, and forgiven (I can personally attest to that one.) Love will correct you so that you can be better, do more, fulfill your dreams. Love makes you get out of bed and go to class so you can learn something, even when you just want to sleep in. Yes, it seems like the loving path because no one is left out, no one is offended and no one is "called out" for things that are clearly wrong. There are no restrictions, and freedom is unlimited. Or is it?

What those who travel this road fail to realize is that it’s a downward descent into destruction. All the promises it gives of satisfaction and fulfillment end in disappointment because it’s a path without God. You will get offended by other "christians" and whether or not you got your hand shook or your neck hugged. You'll wonder why some people feel justified in having things vs. those that don't. You'll want to know why some peoples' walk with God is seemingly effortless, and yours seems in turmoil. You'll constantly be comparing your trip down this path, and this road to others. You will feel bitter about not being on platform singing. You'll want to know why you can't have that suit, or that purse, or those shoes. You will get upset when someone doesn't soothe your feelings about your lukewarm relationship with Christ. You are too busy with work and family to put the time in for this or that activity, but how dare they not acknowledge the 17 minutes you spend in the prayer room!!! You will get offended when Christians and those "fanatics" are just "too churchy" or they can't be that "fired up" behind closed doors. Everyone has that wall up and puts it on for church, right? You can't really be that real, right? This list could go on, ad nauseum. Hear me, those who enter by the narrow gate of faith in Christ find the peace and joy of a relationship with Him that satisfies the heart. The gate is small because truth guards the entrance. The way is narrow because the Lord protects us with wise boundaries.

Which path are you traveling? You can’t have one foot on each, because they’re going in opposite directions. Do you love God? Do you want God in your real, everyday life? Do you want that direction and that sense of relationship and closeness? You can't love Jesus, and then hurt the very people He called you to help. You can't love Jesus, and then kill his people. You can't push others out of their chance for salvation, and be a true Chrisitan. You can't have it "every" way. Conversely, when you condone, well... everything, you’re also headed for destruction. And when you choose the narrow path, you'll find out exactly who your friends are... But when you choose the narrow way, your life truly begins. Listen to God. Christ isn't here to condemn, He is here to save. And yes, the path of a true Christian is actually quite difficult, but you must listen to those things that protect you and save you and will help you find your way. You’ll walk with Christ day by day until He walks you home to heaven.