Someday she’ll understand the meaning of it all

It’s kind of funny – at times people expect me to have so many answers because I’m a Ministry major. I feel that I’m expected to know all this stuff about Jesus, that I’m supposed to have the answers. But the thing is, I have my own doubts and struggles, and I feel that some of them would cause me to be labeled as a heretic. I hate how people automatically assume if you believe something controversial, you are automatically being heretical.

I don’t think it’s wrong to have beliefs that go against the grain. But I am terrified to make those beliefs known – because they are the cause of so much debate within the Christian community. I think it sucks that I keep silent on what I struggle with in Christianity, for fear of being called out and treated like dirt.

One of the things I personally struggle with is an issue of dogma versus doctrine, and that’s where it’s hard to speak it. I absolutely believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. I believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and fully believe they all exist. I believe that Jesus died on the cross, was crucified, buried, and rose again.

But there are things I struggle with. And the fact that I don’t feel I will be treated with respect if I made them known sucks. Knowing that people won’t think I’m a true Christian if I voice some of my struggles, sucks. 🙁

this is your life, are you who you want to be?

I’m kind of freaked out at the moment. Okay, let’s rephrase that. I’m very freaked out. I very much want to go in the ministry. I want to teach, to reach, to help. But I don’t think that Director of Christian Outreach is right. I’m not made to witness to people! I can’t do these face to face convos, calling people to faith! I can’t help a pregnant woman, because I don’t fully believe that abortion is wrong. I can’t help a gay person, because I don’t know that it’s wrong to be gay and I’ve become more accepting of it over the years.

But how can I be a director of Christian outreach when bringing people into the church freaks me out? I don’t want to bring new people in – I want to help the ones who are here. I go into a cold sweat, panic, puke, cry, clam up, and my mind goes blank when I have to do this stuff – even though I know it all logically. I can do it over a messenger. But if i have to do it in person? It’s a living hell. I’m not made to do this! I want to teach! I want to read about Mark (my favourite gospel) and make it relatable! I want to play with children! I want to do young adult ministry! (I can’t deal with teenagers :P) I don’t want to pull new people into the church! I’m fine with helping the broken, Lord knows i want to help those who have been broken be it by the church or by life or both. But I’m not the one to pull them into a relationship with Christ.

I’ve been struggling with this for awhile. It doesn’t help that my eating disorder is out of control, it doesn’t help that my pain and depression and ADD are not medicated. (I go to pick up my Remeron  tomorrow). It doesn’t help that I’m struggling to pass math. It doesn’t help that I’m trying to find an apartment, move off campus, line up doctor’s appointments. And at times it feels like I’m doing it all single-handedly. It doesn’t help that I feel so stressed out.

It’s like I’m playing Pokemon, and I’m up against a trainer who has the attack that’s super effective against me. We’re down to a grass pokemon and a fire pokemon, and I have no other pokemon left other than my poor Leafeon and they’re kicking ass with Rapidash. I can’t flee from a trainer battle, and so attack after attack is hurled at me until I faint, until I black out.

Y U PICK ON ME? THAT NO IZ NICE.

Ahem. Anyway, I’m struggling with this. This is my life, is it who I want to be? I try to make the changes to make things better but it’s hard. And there are some things I cannot change. I guess it’s like the serenity prayer:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to accept the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.”
It just seems like such a struggle some days. Every attack is super effective, and wears me down more and more. I just don’t know what to do anymore and how to keep pulling through. 

and wonder how He could love me, a sinner condemned unclean

“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—” (Gal 3:13)

I know I, at least, don’t fully realize the impact of what Christ did. I mean yes, I was taught as a kid that Chris died for my sins. But the church I grew up in (an Arminian church) did not really lay this out. When we are taught the Apostle’s creed, the line “he descended into hell” is omitted, and so I don’t know that the full ramifications of Christ’s sacrifice are felt. I mean, the Crucifixion is clearly taught, as even stated in a very popular hymn in the Nazarene church: “He took my sins and my sorrows, and He made them His very own. He bore my burden to Calvary, where he suffered and died all alone.” And so, even though so much is taught, I don’t think we fully realize that he became a CURSE – and that by that, he took the curse AWAY from us. HE became the curse, and by rising up from the dead and coming over the dead, he takes that curse AWAY.

and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. (1 Thess, 1:10)

I am irrationally afraid of angry people. If someone even raises their voice in frustration, not even anger, I start trembling. If I even think I’ve made someone remotely angry, I start apologizing profusely. So… the thought that Jesus delivers us from wrath is comforting, because it is something that shakes me to the core so very much.

Author comments:
I love being able to tie things to hymns, and relate the way I was brought up to the what I’m learning now. It’s fun!

a king, a priest, a lover.

“Imagery of Christ as a king is often exciting to Christians, and rightly so. We belong to a great and glorious king, who has made us His own.” (Mueller, page 143)
“King of my heart, I crown you now. I fall at your feet, and before you I bow.” I think that this is something we think a lot: we know that Christ is our King. But I agree with the fact that it says that this is sometimes viewed as a future. Christ is our king yesterday, today, and forever. He will stay our king!

“Our saviour is Christ, the annointed one, the prophet. He sreves us as our great high preiest who offeres himself as the greatest and final sacafrice for the sins of the world.” (Mueller, page 143)
Ths verse in Hebrews is one of my favs. He is our priest – who makes the sacafrice and who loves us deeply.

Author reflections:
Christ is not only a king, but a great high priest. He loves us deeply, and cares for us beyond measure. What a priceless gift!

at the cross you beckon me

Descent into hell: is it humiliation or exaltation? Why would you say so?

Can’t it be both? It’s exalation, because as the words of the worship song “In Christ Alone”: “For every sin on Him was laid, here in the death of Christ I live.” If he took the sins, then he therefore has to take the punishment, which is eternal damnation. If he decended into hell, then we can see the qualities of exalation: he rose over it, he reigns over it, and hell now has no power over us because he is exalted above it for he went to it, and came back. Howver, if the other includes his death, burial, and suffering, it also intertwines with that, because clearly there was suffering in hell!

The classical Christian teaching about Jesus Christ as fully human and fully divine is confessed in the creeds and councils of the early church.
This is cool. I think we often (to use Christian-ese terms) get trapped in issues of dogma versus doctrine when talking about anything related to Jesus. And we collide on such things and get into verbal fistfights about who is right and who is wrong theologically. But in almost every single Christian cirlce, this is one universial truth. And so, it’s cool to see how this one crucal thing goes all the way back and was even agreed on and acknowleded then.

Author Comments:
I like things that make me use vocab, such as the exalation versus humilation, but the English major still runs deep in me even though I switched to psych and ministry. I like how many classic Christian teachings aren’t just tied to one particular church, but are more universial Christain truths.

Cause you’re my little girl…

“We should fear and love God that we may not despise nor anger our parents and masters, but give them honor, serve, obey, and hold them in love and esteem.” (SC – The Fourth Commandment)

I have long grappled with this. I don’t know how to honour my parents. Without going into explicit details, I have no contact with either one of my parents. It’s not because I’m a bad daughter, but I was professionally and legally advised to sever ties. I was not honured by them, instead, I was badly hurt by them. And so, I’ve been trying to figuring out what honoring and obeying them looks like. I understand that it can’t be the traditional view of looking at honouring them, because it’s not feasible for me to have contact nor a relationship. But what does honouring them look like? I still love them for I don’t hate them, despite the wrong they did. I still protect them the best I can, and try to respect them. I also know that the Bible says this in a couple places:

And, you fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. (Eph 6:4, KJV)

Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart. (Col 3:21, NASB)

It’s frustrating, because I’m trying to find the balance. What do I do? Do I still honour God by not associating with my parents? What does that look like? I long to honour and respect my parents, for I know it’s a commandment. But my physical safety has to be secure, my emotional health deserves to thrive. And finding the balance is beyond difficult.

(Sorta unrelated, but this is bringing to mind the Harry Chapin song “Cat’s In The CradleAnd as I hung up the phone, it occurred to me, he’d grown up just like me. My boy was just like me. And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon, little boy blue and the man in the moon, when you coming home, son, I don’t know when, but you know we’ll have a good time then, yeah, you know we’ll have a good time then. It reminds me of how parents treat their children turns out to be how they treat them when they get older. And how do I find the balance between honouring God and keeping myself sane? I think this is the one thing, hands down, that is my biggest struggle with Christianity).

So will we verily, on our part, also heartily forgive and also readily do good to those who sin against us. (SC, The Lord’s Prayer, The Fifth Petition)

This, I think, ties in well with my struggles with my parents, yes. I realize that I need to forgive them, and have started the process of forgiving them. To do good with them, I know I need to honour them. It all comes full circle.

Author comments:

Heh. The more I go through these blog posts, the more I realize my beefs with Christianity. And, of the same accord, the more I want to fix them and use my story of brokenness to bring people back to Him.

{insert witty blog title here}

“This is the church, this is the steeple. Open the doors and see all the people!”
I was taught that rhyme as a child, and we’d often do it in Sunday School. It’s a simple little hand game, but it’s kinda cool because no matter where you go, where you are, you can make a church with your hands. And in the same way, no matter where you go, where you are – you can be the church.

“What is the Church?” All those in whom the Holy Ghost
through the means of grace has worked faith in Christ constitute
an association or gathering, which we call the Church,” Koehler,
Summary of Christian Doctrine, 210.

I think we often think of church as the building we go to sunday mornings. It’s true, this is one part of church. But yet it’s like the verse in Scriptures: Where two or three are gathered in my name, then there I am. I think in some ways, especially when we’ve been wounded by the church, we hold a grunge against them and don’t want to be involved. However, the church is those who gather in His name. While there’s nothing wrong with the physical church, it’s certainly not the only time.

This work is in process,
partial, growing, as Jesus works his salvation out in our lives, defeating
sin, death, and Satan in their death throes.

This really stuck out to me. It’s kinda like a caterpillar – it’s complete, yes, but it still has to become a butterfly. It has to go through the process of metamorphosis. As humans, we are constantly going through metamorphism. It doesn’t change when we become the butterfly, though, for we are always changing and growing and learning.

Author Reflection

It helps me to realize that the church isn’t just a church and a group of fallen people, but a community of believers. It helps me to realize that I’m a work in progress. And you string those two together – the church is a work in progress, always growing, always changing. Really neat thought.

And my wounds will be made whole

“Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Cor 6:11 (NLT)

Cleansed, holy, made right. I think it’s something we all long for, in some way or another. Even, I think, the most non religious, non spiritual person out there longs to be made right in some way, shape, or form. Perhaps not in the way that a Christian longs, but I think it’s a longing within all of us. We long for things to be “right”. I know, for me, I long for things to be right: I long to have a family instead of fending for myself and building my own out of friends. I long to not have to poor over ever food label making sure there’s not something in it that my body will read as poison and make me incredibly ill. Of course, this isn’t quite the “making right” that is being referred to here, but it helps me to put things in real word terms, so maybe it will help others. However, God will make us right in other ways. Maybe not now, and it’s a continuing process, but as we call upon His precious name, he cleanses us (Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe. Sin had left a crismon stain, He washed it white as snow) and makes us new. He makes us right in His eyes, our faults and all.

And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. John 10:16 (ESV)

You know, the whole one church concept has always been hard for me to grasp. I’ve been around in churches. I was raised Nazarene. When my parents split, I went to a Methodist church, then an independent Baptist church, then back to Methodist with my mother, and another Nazarene church with my father. By high school, my mom was back in the Methodist church and my Father was at a Church of Christ. After my faith was completely shattered in the church due to a tragic, unfortunate experience, I pulled away from the church. I’ve been around the block since then with different church experiences and different sets of doctrine, and so the fact that they all intermingle together into one church in God’s eyes is hard to grasp. I don’t think it’s bad, per se, that it’s hard to grasp, but I do think what we go though in life impacts how we grasp and read the Bible. I do think it’s cool, though, that despite all my struggles in the church, it’s all one body, one flesh, one blood of Believers.

And so we know God’s word applies to our life today, and God has a lot to say in His book…
(Author Comments)

Um, excuse my brief Veggietales moment. God loves His church, and views it is one. It’s one of those things I know, logically, and have been taught for years. But applying it and realizing that “Hey, we ARE one body of believers, despite our differences” is another kettle of fish. And it’s also cool to reiterate how God cleanses each of us!

this robe of flesh, i’ll drop and rise to seize the everlasting prize

“He forgives daily and richly all sins to me and all believers, and at the last day will raise up me and all the dead, and will give to me and to all believers in Christ everlasting life.” (SC)

He forgives daily. All sins. To me, this is baffling (not in a “I don’t quite understand it” way, but more in a “say what?!” way). I struggle to forgive. I don’t hold grunges easily and for the most part, but there are some things that happened to me when I was little that I still haven’t forgiven people for. And to myself, I am the hardest critic. I remember one time, crying to a friend, about how God could not possibly forgive me for what I’d done. All I remember is this friend saying “Angelique, who are you to deem what God can and cannot forgive?” And I think that is how I started wrestling with the concept of forgiveness. Quoting myself feels weird, but I look at a poem I wrote in 2010 which has this line: (he has scars just like ours) [maybe some day I’ll post that poem on this blog because it really shows a great deal of my faith struggles]. But he has scars, too. And those scars are the reason he can forgive, whereas mine are the reason I need forgiveness.

God forgives daily. He forgives not only me, but all believers. The believers that, in the past, have hurt me and I struggled to forgive. And in turn, He forgives me for not forgiving. And finally, on the last day he will raise up from the dead and will give to all in Christ, everlasting life. What struck me was the realization: we won’t need forgiving anymore on that day. He is forgiving us daily until then, molding us until we are in the state where we will no longer need it.

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

“But of Christ we could know nothing either, unless it had been revealed by the Holy Ghost. ” (LC, number 65).

We know nothing, unless it’s revealed. Allow me to repeat that: we know nothing unless it’s revealed. We may think we’re great theologians, we may think we’re great Biblical scholars. But the thing is? We really, in reality, know nothing unless it’s revealed. I struggle with this because I’m the kind of person who has to KNOW things before I do anything. But the thing is, the Christian faith isn’t like that. You can’t really know before you take the plunge, you just have to take the dive in and trust that God will be the life jacket to keep you afloat. You just have to go with what you do already know, and have faith and confidence in Christ that He will, in His divine timing, continue to reveal things to you to enrich your faith and deepen your trust in Him and Him alone.

Author comments:
Forgiveness is a strange concept. To think that what we have done can be washed away by the Almighty. That he can forgive, and continues to forgive. And that he, in his wisdom, chooses to forgive AND reveal to us.

Pretty cool!

my sin, not in part, but the whole… is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more praise the lord O my soul

“Sin is not a matter of morality. Morality may be the worst form of sin.
Said differently, to understand sin as a matter of morality is to misunderstand sin.”

I’m not quite sure I agree with this. Why is mortality the worst form of sin? How is that any worse than child abuse, murder, etc? What is so bad about morality? We are all mere mortals, we are all created mortal. And really, how can you say that “morality is the worst form of sin” when we are taught that all sins are equal? Really, in God’s eyes, aren’t we taught that a sin is a sin, and no sin is “worse” than another? True, the earthly consequences may be “worse”, but according to the Christian doctrine I’ve been taught (granted, not LCMS, but Nazarene and Church of Christ) that a sin is a sin. I’m not even sure if I fully jive with the traditional Christian concept of sin. And what if people do understand sin as a matter of morality? We are all mortals, so what is so wrong with viewing it that way? What if people do “misunderstand” sin? Does that make them worse sinners than someone else? Does that make them a bad person? I don’t think not fully understanding something is bad. Or is it meant more that “morality is the worst form of sin” that doing mortal acts is sinful? Maybe I don’t understand. Maybe I’m wrestling with this in the wrong way. Maybe I’m way missing the mark. I don’t know. Maybe I’m not doing what I should with this assignment. All I know is I’m struggling with this concept, and trying to make sense of it. That’s okay, right? It’s okay to show my struggles and where I am more “firmly grounded” (for lack of a better term) faith wise.

“While it is understandable that people in the midst of tragedy or
philosophy ask “Why does God allow x?” the source of sin and evil is never-
the-less not God.”

It’s not God? But God has the power to stop it. He has the power to “make it better.” He could have stopped so much from happening, but he didn’t. How do I explain that to someone, though? Maybe one day I’ll understand it myself, but I’m not sure I get how I get that through to someone else who has suffered more than me. I just… I grapple with it. And I hope that soon I can write about something that I’m confident about in my faith, right? Right!

Author comments:
Well, sin is always a fun topic to write about. And it’s one I struggle with. I don’t even know if I view sin in the traditional Christian way or that I really know what I’m writing about. It’s hard to write about, that’s for sure.