Tag Archive: God


Godloves

God loves you.

[To read more, continue on to part II]

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i don’t, as a rule, share anonymous posts… however, this IS my blog and so i make up the rules and figured this one deserved an exception.

It is a post from a friend of mine who scribed a very different angled approach to the whole masturbation/pornography struggle that so many of us have or had and i thought it might be helpful, or at the very least, interesting:

Three Quick Awkward Memories:

1. In my teens my Dad used to stand in front of the TV when any potential nudity potentially happened to appear. This was very frustrating, and also had the effect, of course, of feeding my curiosity (in the days before the Instant Lust Gratification Finder known as the Internet). And the effect of making me think that it was inherently wrong/naughty/sinful to be even wanting to look at women’s bodies. And finally the effect of causing me to develop my very own DIY secret nudity search antennae. I don’t doubt that my Dad wanted the best for me though.

2. As a committed, born again christian at bible college I made a very public and tearful confession during a 3 day period of prayer and fasting. I had visited a blue cinema and watched what would now be described as a soft porn movie. After my confession a few guys came up to me (privately) and said how fantastic it was that I had confessed and how it had helped them. Personally I didn’t feel great after my confession. Just a little bit empty and embarrassed. However, I believed very much in openness and honesty, and I didn’t want to live a lie.

3. Later as a married man I confessed to my wife and to the man who married us, that I had fantasised about his daughter.

I’m only telling you this stuff to demonstrate that I am a fully qualified male, pornographic/masturbation struggler. It hopefully makes the rest of what I say make sense. For my part I don’t recommend revealing this sort of information publicly as a rule, unless you’ve got a fairly healthy sense of who you are. And even then…if you feel the need to talk about this kinda thing better do it with people who(m)  you know and trust. Confession can sometimes be a way of beating yourself with a very big stick.  Maybe I’m still doing that. I’m not 100% sure.

And now, here is a letter I found recently, sent from God to my younger self. I regret not reading it at the time.

Dear Hector (Name invented for anonymity)

You want to serve me with all your heart and soul, and you believe that I love you completely and forgive you totally. But it’s not always easy for you to get beyond the “what you want and believe” to the “who you are and what you do”. I want to tell you what I think. Because seeing yourself the way I see you can only help things, right?

Firstly, I can tell you that I am interested in the means AND the ends. In the ongoing process of you becoming the best, most complete Hector that you can become. And it is not in your knowledge right now to know who that person is.

Secondly, I think we can agree that I made sex AND I know your future. Some good news is that you are going to have a great wife (though it won’t ALWAYS be clear to you  how great she is). And you will have some great sex. And some good sex. And some sex. This will be an important part of your life. But only a PART of your life.

Thirdly, you are going to continue to struggle with Sex and the Art of Loving. You will separate sex and love in your mind far too often. You will not know a once and for all “victory” in this area (can you live with that possibility?). You will continue to WASTE time (yes, wasting time is the most serious of your offences in this matter) on bad habits. Habits that do nothing for you other than act as a kind of unnecessary release valve despite there being other, more satisfying, less self-hatred inducing, release valves available. And this waste of time will hurt YOU far more than anyone else.

But, and this is a HUGE but. You believe I’ve forgiven you right? Well, as it happens, I really have. Not only for the mess ups you’ve already made, but for all the ones you’re going to make. So that “Worst Of” video you’ve got running in your head, the one about what’s happening inside your head, the one that Me, You, And Everybody Else is going to watch come The Day. It’s NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. Because I love you like the best dad or mum you could imagine. I spend the vast majority of my time getting excited about all the good things you’ve done. Or try to do. I spend a tiny bit of time getting mildly frustrated that you spend a bot too much of your time either: 1. Wasting your time searching for tiredness/anger/sadness/stress relieving unsatisfactory orgasmic “fixes”, then 2. Wasting your time worrying about it, and 3. Wasting your time talking about it.

And now  I’ve wasted enough time talking about it too. But I care, so it was necessary. Now clear off, relax, and get on with:

trying to make the world a better place; being honest; making people laugh; making them groan; making ‘em think; making music; being creative with words; being generous; loving that great wife you’re going to be getting; wearing your heart on your sleeve with your future kids; appreciating other people and nature and good things; crying at bad things; saying sorry when you hurt people you love; taking responsibility for your actions; dreaming of a better way; speaking out for justice; protecting the weak and the vulnerable; being weak and vulnerable; being strong; pursuing truth; being a peacemaker; turning the other cheek; loving your neighbour…

…as you love yourself. I could go on. Really, I could. But for now I think that’s enough.

Lots of Love from

The One who loves you far BETTER than you love yourself.

coincidence

recently i shared an incredible story i heard in church of God being able to take a story that looked like it contained contradictory elements [people being told their adopted children were going to be two different sets of ages] and making them both happen, which you can read about here.

my own recent story contains more coincidence than miracle and so is a lot easier to explain away perhaps, but not to me.

a few weeks ago i attended the CCDA Christian Communities Development conference in New Orleans and after one session where i heard some incredible stories from this man Father Boyle who has worked with gang members for the last thirty years i was broken. i sat in the meeting hall [of i would say 2000 people capacity] as people filed out and they even started putting up dividers to close my edge section off from the main hall section where they were about to have an open mic session.

i was sitting and calling out to God with a sense of ‘what am i doing?’ in response to this message of this man who had dedicated his life to these young people and was seeing incredible results. i know God uses me through online stuff and speaking and writing opportunities when i get those, but in terms of face to face difference making i was just feeling completely low and useless. so really just a cry of ‘what difference is my life making?’

the room had mostly emptied when this older [than me] mom type lady comes up to me with a ‘Brett?’ kind of question and i say ‘Yes’ and she introduces herself. She is a South African who is currently doing a year of study in the States and she goes on to tell me how i had a huge influence in the lives of her two daughters [who are now i think 23 and 21] when they were at school and possibly her son as well.

like really? i am sitting crying out to God about my effectiveness as a God-following person in the middle of Americaland at a conference full of Americaneses and He sends a South African woman to come and look for me to tell me that i had some influence in her family.

coincidence? possibly. God-incident? it just seemed to be so well timed and perfect to be otherwise.

i’m not a big fan of the God-finds-me-parking-places theology because of all the times i’ve asked and He hasn’t and because some people tend to attribute things that were clearly not specifically God to God which to me tends to reduce the times somewhat when it actually is God. i also can’t get my brain around how God was able to bring that lady to come find me and how i completely believe that she operated in her free will both at the same time and yet somehow it just works – maybe God is more largely into the prompting and suggesting business than the picking-people-up-and-marching-them-like-a-robot-into-the-next-room business…

what i do know is that i was feeling low and broken and just really needing some encouragement from God and it came. in quite a dramatic fashion. i think i would have taken encouragement from an American right then, but God sent a South African. and it was a direct answer to the specific cry. so call ‘coincidence’ all you like, but i think i am going to hold onto ‘God-incident’ on this one.

# in a completely different and maybe way more random [to you] note, when i was involved in youth leading a bunch of us from Claremont Baptist were on this youth leader’s committee camp once and we ‘discovered’ this constellation we called ‘the horse’ which is very probably some other constellation or part thereof but it is the one constellation [well, apart from Orion and the Southern Cross] that i can actually pick out in the sky and it’s been a huge source of encouragement for me over the years [feels like a private constellation that belongs to a select few of us and i love sharing it with friends of mine when the opportunity arises] [actually i think Mark Chapman was the one who came up with ‘Barman’s vomit’ which didn’t really count as much cos it referred to the Milky Way which is already kinda named, but that one still gives me a smile every time i see it]

anyways, the point being that when i was flying back from New Orleans i had a window seat and ‘the horse’ was directly outside my window pretty much all the way home which felt like God putting the seal on a very special trip. that one is more likely to be shelved into the corner of coincidence but once again it was just there at the right place and right time [i don’t know that i’ve particularly noticed it in our two years of being in americaland] and confirmation that God has me and to just keep on, because He is faithful.

it is possibly a travesty of the highest order to take something that God has directly put in front of you and to minimalise it or discount it as coincidence and so i am going to use these happenings as opportunity to bring Him praise and glory and attention.

# actually one other quick memory i have from the conference was sitting on the other side of the room from this native american guy who i have seen around for three conferences but never really had much interaction with. during worship i felt like God had a message for him and so i went and shared it with him not knowing that what i was speaking about made any sense at all and thinking he was looking at me kinda weirdly as in ‘what the flip?’, But when i finished he took some time to share with me why he felt that what i had shared with him was from God and how it was really encouraging to him. Those kind of risk moments are great [especially when they work out which they generally tend to] because they are just completely encouraging and life giving to both parties and i look forward to hearing how the words i shared with him come to fruition.

so miracles and God-incidentses and words of knowledge/encouragement… it’s going to take me a lot more faith right now to believe that God doesn’t exist, than to believe and know that He does. how about you? any moments in your life recently where He confirmed His presence and involvement?

 

A fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.

We’ve all heard that one. Well, you have at least now.

It is King David speaking and you can find the quote in Psalm chapter 14 verse 1.

You can also find it in psalm 53 which I just realised is pretty much the same psalm – strange.

Anyways, that’s not really the point of this post. I was thinking about that line on the bus the other day when I came up with this:

A fool says, “In his heart there is no God.”

The idea that we can look at someone else and judge whether or not God is at work or living in their heart.

It has been said before that many people might be surprised one day not so much by who is not in heaven, but by who is.

[This, of course, excludes the Universalists who will just be surprised if anyone is not there]

The church has for too long focused too much energy on the whole “who is in and who is out” vibe.

And this is nothing new. The disciples were at it in Mark 9:

38 “Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”

39 “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, 40 for whoever is not against us is for us. 41 Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.

Whoever is not against us is for us. I’m sure many theologians have had many issues with this one.

And it is at times like these that I am reminded of the two foundational rules of life:

I. There is only one God.

II. It is NOT me. 

Get that one right and you’ll be golden. Because you know what, it is God who is going to take a look at our lives and our commitments and how we spent out time and energy and money one day and He is going to make a call on it.

I am fairly confident that the sole provision for ‘making it’ into heaven one day is not going to be ‘Did you raise your hand and say a prayer at some holiday meeting when you were a child?’ Beyond that, well I’m happy for it to be up to God.

I do think Jesus spoke quite strongly and clearly about it [take a read of Matthew 7 for example] and I think there can be a lot of evidence in play that might suggest that someone is not following [active] God.

But sometimes we just can’t tell. Sometimes the Jesus followers look a little rough around the edges like a fisherman Peter or a tent-maker Paul [you know? the guy who went around killing them]. And we should take absolute joy in the fact that it is going to be God who makes the choice.

We’d be foolish to spend our time judging the unjudgeable surely?

A fool says, “In his heart there is no God.”

What we can do in the meantime is focus on our life, our walk, our talk, the consistency with which we live and follow and bring in the kingdom. [There’s usually a lot of work to be done there]

waiting

And then lead others towards Jesus. Point them towards God or else grab their hands and say, “Hey, let’s go check this thing out!” and walk and lead and direct and wrestle and give them opportunity to doubt and disbelieve and question and be angry or incredulous or skeptical.

Just don’t let them not be loved.

[Dani is a friend that tbV and i met while working with the Simple Way and she currently lives in San Francisco, which is just across the water from us, this is a piece she wrote a year ago which was published in Sojo.net and which she offered to share with us]

Dani Scoville

When my intoxicated friend leaned in to kiss me, I didn’t think I was just the most readily available girl. No, I convinced myself that his true affections for me were coming out. But the next morning, when I realized what it actually meant, I felt less worthy of being loved than I did before.

This wasn’t the first time I lied to myself in the moment and felt awful later, but I wanted it to be the last. I told my friend that wasn’t going to happen again, but I didn’t attempt to process why it happened. Then I was asked to organize an event around the intersection of spirituality and sexuality.

As I began reflecting on my past sexual interactions with men, I tried to bring God into the conversation for the first time.

It was easier to punish myself with guilt, follow youth group-style sexual boundaries or just say, “forget it” and do whatever I desired. I was reluctant to process my sexuality. Not only would it be a lot of work and uncover a lot of past hurt, but what if it unraveled foundational faith and lifestyle beliefs?

Up until six months ago, I had never questioned my decision to not have sex until I was married. I just did what I thought I was supposed to.

Once I began to reflect on it, though, I realized I was angry that God was asking me to wait. Or maybe it was OK to have sex, and God hadn’t told me sooner! I envisioned what would happen if I didn’t wait.

I decided that I would give my current relationship six months. If we were in love, I would give in.

But no matter how I attempted to deconstruct sex outside of marriage, I still felt that this change in my standards would result in me putting an unhealthy amount of expectation on that man to marry me. I knew that I would feel all those years of waiting were cheapened. Because, for me, sex holds an intense emotional and spiritual association.

I didn’t know all this until I questioned. And now, the only way I can envision having sex with someone is in a safe and committed context. This has also led to the more recent realization that I needed to revise my sexual boundaries in dating.

I listed all the events of the past year: what I enjoyed, what made me feel used, and what I needed to allow myself to enjoy. After I processed the last year, I thought about how my desire to be loved and accepted by a man was rooted in a desire to be love and accepted by God. If I first believe that I am God’s beloved, then I would be confident in my interactions with men, knowing I’m already loved and accepted.

So I drafted another list: this one of boundaries self-confident me would ideally want and be able to stick to. A week later, I met a guy who walked me home and kissed me good night at my gate. Rather than slam the gate in his face to make sure he didn’t come upstairs, I told him I was interested in him but that I wasn’t going to invite him in. When I woke up the next morning, I felt great.

I didn’t expect that deconstructing my sexual boundaries in the name of faith would cause me to develop boundaries. But these new ones aren’t oppressive, because they come from an understanding of myself. No one else came up with them but me. Now when the temptation to get a momentary intimacy fix is there, I’ll have my own voice and story reminding me to not give in and wait for something rooted in love.

[Dani Scoville lives in San Francisco and is an active member of ReImagine, a community focused on integrating the teachings of Jesus into daily life. to read more of what Dani writes, check out her blog, ‘Through the Roof Beams’ here]

[For another story on Singleness, meet my friend Beverley by clicking here]

[For an inspirational post titled ‘I don’t wait anymore’ click here]

this is a really short psalm and i don’t have a lot to say about it… seems like another bad day in the office for David, starting with:

‘The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, and their ways are vile; there is no one who does good.’ [verse 1]

i mean, come on now David, that seems a little overly dramatic… and are you including yourself in that or is this another typical everyone-else-sucks-but-I’m-good that we’ve seen so much of?

but the first line is at least true. i’ve said this before and i will probably say it again – i believe that it takes a lot more faith to not believe in God, than to believe in God.

i get this from looking at my little finger. just stop and look at yours for a second. now bend it. i mean that’s a little finger and it freakingly amazingly brilliantly designed. creation speaks of a creator. to think an explosion happened and somehow that resulted. now add in your whole body. now look at it under a microscope and start thinking about atoms and DNA and smaller and more intricate and you have to go WOW, something is happening. something has happened here. the fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’

you can come up with the conclusion that it’s not the same God i believe in, but there has to be something. and that’s a start.

and he continues with this:

‘God looks down from heaven on all mankind
to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.
Everyone has turned away, all have become corrupt;
there is no one who does good, not even one.’ [verse 2,3]

this reminds me of the story of Elijah, who after seeing God pour fire from heaven on his water-drenched sacrifice in 1 Kings 18 and the death of hundreds of Baal worshipers, ends up fleeing from one woman and alone and depressed in a cave:

‘He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

The Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.”’ [1 Kings 19, 14-18]

woe is me, it’s just me, i’m the only one who gets this… No, you’re not David. No, you’re not Elijah. No, you’re not [insert your name here]. I have this. It is My kingdom and I care about it more than you do. That person you are so concerned about, I love them more than you do.

Trust Me. Give me your hand, get up off your face and let’s do this thing…

[To return to the Intro page and be connected to any of the other Psalms i have walked through before now, click here]

i think the first very interesting thing to note with this psalm is the intro:

‘For the director of music. A maskil  of David. When Doeg the Edomite had gone to Saul and told him: “David has gone to the house of Ahimelek.”’

if you read the first seven verses you see David’s response to basically ‘being told on’ and he is not amused. should we learn from that example of David and go to ourselves, ‘ah cool, so that makes it okay to rant publically about someone?’

i would suggest no. i don’t think this is a teaching passage that ends in ‘Go and do likewise!’ – but i do think we can take some kind of relief at seeing how this ‘man after God’s own heart’ still got really annoyed with people and even lost it to some extent in a public way. David lost his cool. does that mean i should lose mine? no, but it makes me feel so much better when i do. i am in good company.

we see this later with the disciples trying to get rid of the kids that ‘are bothering Jesus’, we witness this as Peter valiantly pulls out his dagger and removes the ear of one of the guards come to arrest Jesus and we have seen this in Moses smashing the tablets with the ten commandments on them because he is so pissed off by the Israelites actions.

it’s not the right way to behave… but we ‘get’ it.

and then it’s like he manages to pull himself together right at the end and finishes with a focus on God. kind of like he is saying, ‘I am mightily pissed off right now, i’m so angry, i’ve been so hard done by… but God is faithful. This too shall pass. And what does any of it really matter because i have God on my side and He is loving and faithful.

‘But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God;
I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.
For what you have done I will always praise you in the presence of your faithful people.
And I will hope in your name, for your name is good.’ [vs. 8-9]

 [To return to the Intro page and be connected to any of the other Psalms i have walked through before now, click here]

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