January 22, 2015

None of us are too bad to become a Christian

Posted in Good reads tagged , , , , at 2:27 am by sanguinemare

Just wanted to put this here:

Adam Ford’s great comic on how none of us are too bad to be saved.

January 21, 2015

The Heresy of Worshiptainment

Posted in Good reads tagged , , , at 3:55 am by sanguinemare

Here is a great article by Mike Livingstone about The Heresy of Worshiptainment, and why it is important for us in our churches not to focus on being “entertained”, but to really hear and soak in the message of the Gospel.  To have Christ and God at the center of worship, rather than human stars.  I hope and pray that the churches you all attend are grounded in the Word rather than man-made idols, and that your hearts will crave not the “great music” or “experience”, but rather the true conviction and saving grace and mercy of Christ.  That applies to me as well.

September 3, 2014

“Romance” novels

Posted in Good reads, Random Interesting Facts tagged , , , , , at 3:32 pm by sanguinemare

I ran across this article on my facebook newsfeed today, titled “Fifty Shades, Twilight, and Teaching Young Women To Desire Abusers“.  The article makes the point that those who read Fifty Shades seemed to have more adverse health behaviors and were more likely to have partners with violent or abusive/unwanted behavioral tendencies.  I would have to say that the study is far from robust, and as it mentions itself, there is no temporal connection – meaning, there’s no way to tell whether it’s because people who are already like that are more drawn to the books, or whether people who read these books are more likely to fall into those behaviors.

Having ready the Twilight series (somewhat out of boredom) in my college years since they were a quick read and my housemate owned them, I don’t think the books are necessarily as bad as the article is portraying.  It’s a bit like how people cry “Stockholm Syndrome” with Disney’s (and theoretically all other versions…) Beauty and the Beast.  I think people are reading much more into it than is there, and is not what the consumers actually get out of the stories.  Although I will gladly eat my words if someone shows me a well-done study showing that kids or young girls have actually been psychologically damaged in looking for partners after consuming those products.

On the other hand, Fifty Shades of Grey is something else all together.  Out of curiosity, I did peruse a couple pages of the book at a bookstore once since it was everywhere for a good year or so… and I literally had to shut the book because I felt like my IQ points were dropping.  As the article mentions, it was basically pornography in written form – no substance, just random (and bolded!  What kind of literary book bolds and italicizes random moans/thoughts??  Which I guess answers the question… it’s not literary fiction at all) words and events thrown together with no rhyme or reason.  And it is almost not surprising then, that consumers of this type of work would gain a false perception of the world, much like the visuals of pornography does.

One of the comments there, written by Amy, said the following:

“Thank you so much for writing this. It breaks my heart to see so many women ensnared by this pornographic trash disguised as literature. As a teenager, I read this sort of garbage and it was incredible damaging and though it has been over a decade since I filled my mind with this disgusting stuff, it nonetheless followed me into my marriage and resulted in issues with my husband and me.

I would also encourage young women to be very discerning regarding romantic movies and even so-called Christian romantic fiction as it is blatantly emotionally pornographic and can be quite damaging as well. The unrealistic expectations, obsessive infatuations portrayed as romantic heroism, etc. are extremely unhealthy to ingest. You are what you read, so read well.”

I really liked what she said.  As someone who also reads fanfiction (not always of mature content) and has read romance novels, I know that I also probably have a somewhat warped view of the world.  Men are not all romantic, there is not necessarily someone who we are destined to be with and who will always be faithful, and of course, there is the depictions of intimacy that probably aren’t what most people experience (at least, not without a lot of practice and working together).  “Emotionally pornographic” is an apt description of the experience. So as Amy said, you are what you read.  So read well.

August 27, 2014

How to answer the “What about the nice, good people out there who never hear about Jesus before they die?” question

Posted in Sunday school/service at 2:35 am by sanguinemare

We were talking about Romans 1:18-23 today in growth group (we would have covered the rest of the chapter tonight, but I kind of accidentally sent the convo spiraling on a tangent ^.^||) and got to the question of well, in light of the fact that part of human nature is to worship, and without God, we will find something else to fill the void… what happens to those people who never hear about Jesus, but who do recognize some higher power through creation, as mentioned in the chapter, and just believe in another deity/religion because that’s what was around them, and they are “good” people?

This is a question I wrestle with sometimes, personally when it comes up in sermons or talks, and also when people ask me about it, because I don’t have a great answer.  There’s the idea of inclusivity vs. exclusivity, where the former says that well, as long as they strove to be upright in all they did, there’s a possibility they can also be saved after death given their circumstances, like at the end of the Chronicles of Narnia series.  The latter however, says that Jesus is the only way anyone can be saved (Acts 4:12 and Romans 10:10-17 were the passages referenced by people in my group to answer this question), and thus the need for urgency of spreading the Gospel, as well as support for the exclusivity principle.

What I thought was a good perspective though, was how someone responded to the question I asked about how to respond to the inevitable follow-up question to the exclusivity idea, which is usually somewhere along the lines of “but that’s not fair – they can’t help that they weren’t told the gospel before they died”.  He said they when he had a similar conversation with a friend, his response was “well, since you do happen to be one of the ones fortunate enough to hear about it, how are you feeling about it right now, in your heart?” Eh, well he probably said it a lot more eloquent than that – I can’t remember exactly how he phrased it but it was less awkward and more impactful-sounding than what I wrote here, haha.  But basically, he said he’d felt that the friend was trying to see if he would say that it was possible those people could be saved without Jesus, which would become self-justification for himself to not need Jesus for salvation.  That was an interesting perspective on that question that I’d never thought about – usually I think people would be asking it because they were frustrated that Christians didn’t have answers and/or because they felt like God was not fair and therefore not worthy to put trust and devotion to.  But after hearing my growth group member’s perspective, I would add to that and say that maybe in asking the question that way, it distances themselves from “other people”, so they can advocate for and steer the conversation focus onto nebulous “others” rather than needing to self-reflect and think about what the gospel means for their lives specifically, or how they feel about it.

Anyways, just thought it was a good way to think about the question and the response.  In discussions like these, the most important thing is to bring the conversation back to Christ, what He did on the cross, and the amazingness of his saving grace.  I tend to forget that and just get lost in philosophical discussions that are all in the realm of the theoretical and unknown, and forget that ultimately, having a relationship with Christ and God is what is the most important.

July 9, 2014

Songs from Retreat

Posted in Random Interesting Facts tagged , , , , , , , , , at 3:55 pm by sanguinemare

On a happier note, here are some uplifting songs that I really liked from the retreat (I’ve been listening to all of them, but especially the first one, on repeat since I’ve gotten back haha :])

I am not the same – Unhindered

Oceans – Hillsong United

Cry in my Heart – Starfield

Marvelous Light – Charlie Hall

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
edit: oops, one more that I forgot:

Your Love Never Fails – Jesus Culture

The story of Mindy

Posted in Random Interesting Facts tagged , , , , , at 3:40 pm by sanguinemare

Another struggle that was shared during the retreat was the subject of lust, and how he did not want to look at or think of his sisters in Christ that way.  The frustration and shame were so tangible, and I think it resonated with a lot of the people, especially guys, there.  I thought he was very brave for standing in front of not just one church, but multiple churches in the area, speaking out about his struggles, and Praise the Lord that he felt he had to confess that to everyone, because getting it out and admitting it is the first step to healing.

So when I stumbled upon this article yesterday, it reminded me of this struggle that many people have to deal with, and it shows just how easy it is to manipulate a young girl to think that she would like to be part of that kind of lifestyle.  This is what can happen when our lives are not God-centered – we covet things and want to try things to fill a void within us.  It’s in our nature.  And I’m not judging here – I myself have seen how much I can fall without God as my center.  But anyway, I hope this article can also serve as a reminder that the people in these videos are real people, who are really affected by what they’re doing in their lives outside of the industry.  And the struggles follow them for the rest of their lives.  So instead of consuming what the industry provides, let’s pray for all of those involved, that they would come to know Christ as the only nurturer of our souls and the only thing we need.

The Pastor’s Kid

Posted in Random Interesting Facts tagged , , , at 3:01 pm by sanguinemare

Just ran across this article on a new facebook friend’s wall yesterday (we met during a youth retreat we were both helping out at this weekend). It’s about Barnabas Piper’s (John Piper’s son) experience as a pastor’s kid, and his new book, The Pastor’s Kid.  Pretty interesting stuff.  I think sometimes when we think about pastors, especially well-known ones like John Piper, we tend to build them up in our minds to be larger than life, and we see their kids, who look so kind and obedient on the outside, and think they must have a wonderful family life.  I know sometimes I look at friends’ families who grew up Christian, and think “I want that for my future family.”  But they tell me that it’s not all sunshine and roses – that they also have fights and issues that go on behind the scenes.

During this retreat, one of the pastor’s kids (PK’s) did actually speak up in the sharing time about his experience, and how he always had a lot of anger pent up and hated being a PK.  (I was not really familiar with this term before this weekend, though I may have occasionally heard it once or twice in the far past, now that I think about it).  This was coming from a boy that everyone just thought of as mischievous and who smiled and laughed all the time.  It’s so strange – how much we can all hide our true selves to the world behind a smiling facade.  But anyway, that’s what I thought of when I saw the article, and I actually would be pretty interested in reading it to see what it has to say.  Like the video at the end mentions, I think this would be good, not only for PK’s and pastors to read, but also for all of us to consider as well.

April 18, 2014

The Cross and Christian Sexuality

Posted in Good reads tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 3:35 am by sanguinemare

Well, it’s certainly been a while since I posted here.  Haven’t had as much time as I would like to review sermons or growth group sessions and write them on here.  I did watch this yesterday/today though – it’s by a pastor who leads at a church that my current church was a church plant of (lots of “church” in that sentence haha).  I think this is a really good sermon for people who wonder about what Christianity and the Bible say about sexuality.  Have you ever wondered how far can you go with your partner who is not yet a husband or wife?  What about pornography?  Masturbation?  How far is too far?  To anyone who is struggling with this, has struggled with this, or has suffered because someone else is struggling because of this, I point you to this great sermon by David Platt.

August 11, 2013

Great quotes from today’s sermon

Posted in Sunday school/service tagged , , at 7:12 pm by sanguinemare

We talked about Luke 17 today, where we were showed many examples of what it meant to live like a true disciple of Christ.  Once concept our pastor talked about was the principle of fighting sin, but being eager and quick to forgive when someone sins against us.  Here are some quotes/excepts from our notes page for today:

“We should be willing to rebuke the wayward:

Nothing can be more cruel than the leniency which abandons others to their sin.  Nothing can be more compassionate than the severe reprimand which calls another Christian in one’s community back from the path of sin (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together)

We should be willing to forgive the repentant:

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)

Disciples trust Jesus alone and thank Jesus openly (v. 11-19):

The best of us are far too like the nine lepers.  We are more ready to pray than to praise, and more disposed to ask God for what we have not, than to thank Him for what we have.  Murmurings, complainings, and discontent abound on every side of us.  Few indeed are to be found who are not continually hiding their mercies under a bushel, and setting their needs and trials on a hill.  These things ought not so to be. (J.C. Ryle)”

May 8, 2013

Potential pitfalls of teachings of emotional purity, chastity, courtship

Posted in Good reads tagged , , , , , , , at 12:31 am by sanguinemare

I’m not sure what kind of strange movement is going on in “modern Christianity,” but yesterday and today I stumbled upon different sources discussing how the teachings of “emotional purity” and other things have messed up the current generation in how they think of relationships, themselves, and their relationship with God.

One was the whole thing with Elizabeth Smart’s kidnapping, and how she says her Mormon teachings on chastity and purity were what caused her not to run from her captors.  I can’t find the original article I read it from, but here’s another one that addresses the main points.

Today I stumbled upon another article about emotional purity and courtship, and how that teaching has affected someone’s lives, even now after a marriage of 7 years.  I don’t know where they are teaching this stuff, but if this is the psychological fallout, that’s terrible.  Every time I hear of girls (or guys!) feeling worthless because of something like this, and/or allowing terrible things to continue happening to them because of it, I just get really upset.  “Don’t you know your own worth?!” I want to yell.  What makes it worse is that the two situations here are from girls who have been brought up Christian, so should theoretically know what they are worth, and what is important in God’s eyes, and yet that so clearly is not the case.

Clicking around some links from the article, I gather what the 2nd article’s author is talking about is from a fundamentalist Christian teaching based on Bill Gothard and the Institute of Basic Life Principles (IBLP) he founded, and more specifically the homeschooling branch called the Advanced Training Institute (ATI).  Here’s the FAQ page about that, and the mission page of the website trying to help people through it.  Some of the doctrine I am getting out of reading some of these the articles/sites is pretty scary.  [edit: ok, now that I’ve read a lot of stories on the site, let me say it’s way more than scary.  GET OUT. NOW. FALSE DOCTRINE AND HUGE POTENTIAL FOR ABUSE]

Given that I am neither Mormon nor Fundamentalist, I don’t want to judge either of these two groups, but I seriously want to say, to all Christians, that you should look to the Bible as your sole source of Truth and what God truly desires of us.  Not any person or leader.  Even in church, think critically and weigh the pastor/priest/leader’s words against what you know of the Word.  Does it match?  Does it make sense in the context it was written?  If not, be careful and do some studying and searching.  Talk with other Christians, maybe even those not in your church, to see whether what you have been taught all this time may not be the real (or full) truth.  Christianity is about a personal relationship with God, not your relationship by proxy through someone else.  So make it a priority to discover who He truly is and what He desires from you.

What I did really like about the article the author posted was her section on faith vs. formula: “I don’t think God likes formulas, because formulas run contrary to faith. Formula says, “I will follow a God that I’ve put neatly in a box, and He will give me the desired results.” Faith says, “I will follow You even when I can’t see where I’m going, even when the world is collapsing around me.” Formula says, “I will not risk. I will be in control of my future.” Faith says “I will risk everything. I will trust Him whom I cannot see, surrender what I cannot control anyway.” Formula is the assurance of things planned for, the conviction of things seen. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). But we are afraid. So we control instead of trust. We don’t take a step unless we can see where we’re going. We build neat little formulas and say “THIS will keep me safe!” Then we blame God when our puny formulas fail.”

This is so true, in so many aspects of our lives as Christians.  We plan and try to do all the “right” things, then cry and complain when they don’t go as we want.  And we expect God to act a certain way, or help us do things a certain way, so when He says “go there” or “do that”, we don’t because we aren’t looking for that and miss it when he answers/directs us.  And then we do things the way it ought to be done, and get angry when it goes wrong because he “never” answers our prayers.  Instead, we should focus on Him and keep our eyes and ears open for what He might have to say, or what he might want us to do.

Here is the follow-up for her article, which I think also has some good points.

If you ever find yourself in any of those situations, or are currently in one of those situations, I pray and hope that you will be able to walk out into the light and freedom and truth that God wants you to experience.  I hope you will not feel worthless because of something that is out of your control, or feel guilty or ashamed and that God or people could never love you because of it.  Christ died for all of us, no matter what sins we have done or gone through, because we ARE worthy in His eyes.  Worthy enough to suffer and die for.

On that note, I found a nice article on that site about forgiveness – what is is, and is not – which I thought might be appropriate to share here for those who need it.

God bless.

Previous page · Next page