Category: God

Let Me See Redemption Win

It feels like this song has been my prayer for the last four or five years. It got to the point where I didn’t think I had anything left to give—not for the people I loved, and definitely not for myself—but this summer God’s been revealing to me the ways He’s been working all along. It feels like someone was holding my soul underwater these last few years, trying to drown it, but God set it free; like I can breathe again, and I’m so thankful.

“Worn” by Tenth Avenue North
I’m tired, I’m worn
My heart is heavy
From the work it takes
To keep on breathing
I’ve made mistakes
I’ve let my hope fail
My soul feels crushed
By the weight of this world

And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause I’m worn

I know I need to lift my eyes up
But I’m too weak
Life just won’t let up
And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause I’m worn

My prayers are wearing thin
Yeah, I’m worn
Even before the day begins
Yeah, I’m worn
I’ve lost my will to fight
I’m worn
So, heaven come and flood my eyes

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause all that’s dead inside will be reborn

Though I’m worn
Yeah, I’m worn

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God the Father & Mother

A few Sundays ago, the youth pastor at my church shared a story that had everyone (me included) fighting tears. At about eight years old, he decided to run away from home. Not for any real reason, “maybe just as a way to assert my independence.” His parents tried to talk him out of it, but he wouldn’t be swayed. He was going to run away. So, they let him go. As he started to walk down the block, he heard his father’s car start. But he’d made his decision, so he kept walking. The car pulled out into the road and followed along behind him.
Our pastor said he’d made it a few blocks when it started to get dark and cold and too real. He wasn’t sure where he would live now or who would feed him. He couldn’t go back home, but he didn’t want to keep going.
He said he stood there for a while, then began to cry. After a few seconds, he heard his father get out of the car. His dad hugged him, then led him back to the car, and buckled him in. Together, they went home.
It’s easy to see how our pastor was relating this story to his relationship with God. The point was that even when we turn our back on God, He’ll be right behind us, waiting for us to turn around. But that story reminded me of one from my childhood.
For most of my childhood, we lived in a farmhouse with a quarter mile of lane between us and the gravel road. One day, my sister Emily and my mom were fighting over something. Emily screamed, “I’m going to run away.” Mom’s answer? To help her pack.
I’m a firm believer in the idea that the way you grow up affects every part of the rest of your life. You either overcome the bad or you let it drag you down. You cling to the good. The most important lesson I ever learned, I learned from my mom.
I don’t remember what Mom and I were talking about now, just that it didn’t feel like a big deal until Mom said, “Just make sure you can still stand to look at yourself in the mirror.”
People get upset at the idea of a God who would let people He supposedly loved go to hell. What they don’t want to acknowledge is that without free will, there is no love, only compulsion. God loved us enough to give us a choice—and even when we rejected Him, God loved us enough to respect our decision. Because even though our decisions might hurt Him and the people around us, we’re the ones who have to live with them.
That’s why Mom helped Emily pack her little red suitcase.
But Mom also reminded Emily to take a jacket. And she stood at the window and watched Emily head off down the lane. When Emily came back crying, Mom hugged and kissed her and helped her unpack the suitcase like nothing had happened.
Because He loves us, God gave us the freedom to choose. Because he wants us to be safe, He’ll give us other options, better ones to lead us out of trouble. Ultimately, He’ll respect our choices, but He’ll always be watching over us, waiting to welcome us back home.

Agapao

This is the blog post I was writing the day that I learned that my friend hung himself. He killed himself because the other guys in his barracks found out that he was gay and made him feel like he shouldn’t be alive anymore. Before you decide that my conclusion was biased by his death, let me assure you that I had written everything but the very last paragraph before I heard the news.
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I was at my sister Emily’s house the other day while she was checking Facebook. One of her friends had just gotten engaged. That friend is gay.
“How am I supposed to respond to this?” my sister asked. “I believe that gay marriage is wrong, but I also don’t think the government should be allowed to take away anyone’s [right to visit the their significant other in the hospital].”
Some people are lucky enough to have older siblings with all the answers. Emily isn’t.
For the last couple of days I’ve been trying to figure this out and the only thing I’ve come up with is that this is a bigger deal than just a simple “like,” ignore, or comment on Facebook. My sister and her husband lead the youth group at their church and they have a baby boy. They’re role models. The way they respond to this engagement and the others that come after it is going to affect the way their son and those teenagers in their youth group respond to the world.
Let’s get one thing straight—the LGBTQ community is here to stay. It’s been around since Bible times and it hasn’t disappeared yet. Alternative lifestyles (and by “alternative” I mean “other than one male and one female of the same race, religion, and nationality”) are only going to become more accepted as time goes on. Christianity and other hetero-centric religions or belief systems haven’t changed that in the last 2,000+ years, and they’re not going to in the time we have left. As long as there’s an agreed upon norm, there will always be an alternative to the norm.
There are a number of different viewpoints on homosexuality within Christianity. (In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that I believe that God gave us a model He expected us to follow when He made Eve for Adam and any time humans miss the mark, even by a little bit, it’s considered sin. I’m not likely to change my mind without hard scriptural evidence.) But whether homosexuality is right or wrong isn’t the issue here. The question I’m going to try to answer is how a Christian should respond to their gay friends getting engaged and married.
Let’s start out with a baseline and work our way up. No matter what you believe, one thing we can all agree gay and straight people have in common is that they are human. Right? No disagreement yet? Cool, let’s continue.
If you are a Christian, you believe that God created all humans in His image.
Still with me? Awesome.
The second thing all Christians should agree on—Jesus preached the truth while he was on this earth. If you believe that one thing he said wasn’t true, then you can’t believe anything he said—but that’s a post unto itself. If we believe that everything Jesus said was true, then we must believe that he wasn’t just kidding around when he said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it—‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Get ready to bear with me. I just spent three coffee-soaked hours in my Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance (“Strong’s—so you know it’s good!”). It’s about to get semantic up in here.
The word “love” that Jesus used is the Greek word agapao which means “to love in a social or moral sense” and is the root of the word “beloved.” The type of love is used in both Jesus’ command to love God with every bit of yourself and in the command to love your neighbor is the same love that Jesus commands us to love our enemies with.
Furthermore, Strong’s invites the reader to compare agapao to the word phileo used in verses like Matthew 6:5, about the hypocrites who “love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by people” and the conversation between Jesus and Peter in John 21, where Jesus asks three times if Peter has agapao for him and each time Peter responds that he loves him, phileo-style. Phileo in Greek means “to be a friend to” or “to have affection for.” Compared to one another, agapao is the broader, stronger term. It encompasses duty, propriety, and the deliberate decision to love no matter what, whereas phileo is more of a fleeting feeling towards a person or object.
Did that digression into ancient semantics help us in any way? Let’s watch.
Okay, so if the second greatest command in the whole Bible is to love your neighbor as yourself in a way that’s deliberate, proper, and your duty as a Christian, and your neighbor is defined as any human being on the face of this earth (“Neighbor” is, by the way. I can Strong’s it for you, too, if I have to.), then the real question becomes “How should I respond when someone I love has good news, for example, that they’re getting married?”
If I truly loved the person, this is how I would respond—“WOOHOO! YEAH! GOOD FOR YOU! AWESOME! I WISH YOU A LIFETIME OF HAPPINESS!”
You may disagree with me. I welcome well-studied, scripturally supported arguments, but I won’t listen to is hatefulness. Gay, straight, male, female, or some other third thing—we’re all human. To hate any human is to deny love to another creature of God, a love that He gave you first, then commanded you to spread to the people in your life. People who He created in His image. To deny love to even one small part of God’s image is to willfully disobey the greatest command—to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.
Maybe you disagree with your friend’s lifestyle. As a Christian, it’s still your moral obligation according to Jesus’s word-choice agapao to love your friend anyway and react appropriately.
And here’s something that I didn’t expect to find while researching this question: You’re not just supposed to agapao your friends. Jesus said to agapao your enemies, too.