Women: stop pretending around men

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Psalm 139:14.)

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A Short Dialog on Drinking Coffee and Fixing Other People’s Sins

[A somewhat fictional conversation in a supermarket parking lot.]

“Hello.”

“Hi … do we know each other?”

“I’ve seen you around church and heard that the way you live is sinful
and I thought you’d like me to tell you why.”

“Interesting, but shouldn’t we get to know
each other before you try to fix my sins?”

“God might strike you down and then it’ll be too late.”

“What if God strikes you down first?”

“Me? Why would God strike me down?”

“I don’t know. Why would he strike me down
if what you’ve got to say is so important?”

“I didn’t mean he’d literally strike you down.”

“Do you know anyone God has literally struck down?”

“No.”

“Who do you know, then?”

“Me? I know lots of people. Why?”

“I thought we might have some friends in common.
Want to hit the coffee shop and find out?”

“Um, OK, sure.”

[After sitting together over coffee for a while.]

“So what was it you wanted to tell me?”

“I can’t remember. Can we meet for coffee again sometime?”

“Sure. It’s nice getting to know you.”

“Yeah, you too.”

***

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. (James 1:19-20.)

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Why I Get to Pick and Choose Which Verses to Follow

Christians love to pick and choose their favorite verses. Just ask a Christian some time about a favorite verse or passage, and get ready to settle in for a long listen. She or he will go on at length about how the words speak to them, and how these are more meaningful than other passages. You’ll soon get the impression that you’re being proselytized.

Oh, it’s true. The verse evangelist – technically known as a versangelist – wants you not only to understand but to become a fellow believer. They’re not at all that interested if you have another take on the verse. Join them or risk being misunderstood, pitied, perhaps even shunned. Get active and join in the movement, or get out of the way.

Yes, to a versangelist’s way of thinking when it comes to singing their favorite line in a praise song there is only one way to join the movement …

What’s that? You thought I was talking about Bible verses?

Praise Singing Dogmatics

Versangelists are dogmatic about their favorite lines in praise songs, taking them as instructive for proper praise activity. But their inconsistency is baffling to me.

Just last week I was at church and the song we sang had the words “We stand and lift up our hands.” Lots of people dutifully raised their hands.

That’s fine by me. People like to raise their hands, although not everyone who sees them understands why. Back when I was in law school a friend said perhaps they were thinking it got them closer to God. (That’s silly, of course. Everyone knows it’s the bigger the hair the closer to God; nothing to do with hands.)

No, I think it’s because they take the song as an instruction manual. They see the words “We stand and lift up our hands” on the screen and think, “Hey, I can lift up my hands just like the song says. This is easy!”

I’ve had conversations with those versangelists, too, usually as they stand next to me in church and notice my arms down at my sides. “How can you not raise your hands when singing those songs, those lines?” they ask.

So I ask them to tell me what they expect me to do when we get to the next line? “We bow down and worship him now.” I didn’t see anyone bowing down, not even the handraisers. What gives?

Picking and choosing, that’s what it is.

Well I refuse to be a picky chooser, and keeping my hands down is a show of solidarity with all the other counter-versangelists out there.

Well, that and the fact that I’ve not mastered the art of raising my hands without feeling like I’m back on the disco dance floor from my high school days.

***

[Here’s a handy hand-raising guide from Tim Hawkins:]

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How to Like the Way You Look in Broad Daylight

Jesus performed his miracles at weddings (John 2:1-11), in wide open spaces (Matthew 14:15-21), on busily traveled roads (Luke 8:40-48), and often entirely in broad daylight. It’s not that he never performed a miracle at night or among a mere few, but it was not the norm.

G.K. Chesterton has an interesting take on the timing of miracles:

For miracles should always happen in broad daylight. The night makes them credible and therefor commonplace. (Chesterton’s The Noticeable Conduct of Professor Chadd.)

What is it about night that lends credibility to miracles? It might be the ease with which the seemingly supernatural can be explained away (“It was just the way the shadows played, or it was just the wind howling, or there was a last minute switch under cover of darkness”) or it might be that people are more easily spooked at night (“That place gives me the creeps; I could feel something unworldly in the air”).

And as Jesus said, darkness gives cover to those who want to hide their deeds.

Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. (John 3:20.)

It is no wonder then that darkness is when his enemies came for him.

Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs? Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour—when darkness reigns.” (Luke 22:52-53.)

Giotto di Bondoni, The Arrest of Christ (1304-06) Wikipedia

What horrific words: “But this is your hour—when darkness reigns.” Darkness of this late hour hid their actions from the scrutiny of the thousands of people of Israel who had come to Jerusalem for the annual Passover feast, who had been in the temple courts when Jesus taught all who were present, the hours of daylight when Jesus was right under the very noses of those chief priests and temple guards.

If they had remembered their scripture, they’d have known there is no cover in darkness:

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me

    and the light become night around me,”

even the darkness will not be dark to you;

    the night will shine like the day,

    for darkness is as light to you. (Psalm 139:11-12.)

Their conduct and decisions about Jesus are the opposite of what Jesus had been teaching his followers.

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16.)

Johann Christoph Weigel, Lamp on a Stand (1695) (Wikipedia)

How is it that you can be the light of the world? Because of who Jesus is:

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12.)

You are the light of the world because you have the light of life, and so you can shine as the light of the world himself shines. This is another miracle.

Shine on.

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The Top 4 Summer Blockbuster Movies You Won’t Want to See!

Everyone makes lists of must-see movies. Here’s my list of the top must-miss movies:

The Music Map – A cartographer musician travels through small Midwestern towns trying to convince residents that the best way to travel is using his GPS software that is highly accurate but only if you sing to it. The town librarian pulls out an atlas and proves him wrong. Nobody cares because the atlas is a book and no one reads books  any more.

All’s Quiet on the Western Font – A World War 1 typesetter longs to create the best font for transmitting secret dispatches from London to field commanders. No one pays attention to him because he’s too quiet.

The Round of Music – A plucky young woman in an Austrian abbey is sent to care for a family of unruly children. She teaches them to sing in rounds, but not how to  stop singing. They never act unruly again.

The Clown Wars – A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, there were clowns who had the power of the force. Instead of light sabers they carried seltzer bottles and rubber chickens. They weren’t the most effective Jedi in battle but they were funny, especially when 20 of them all crawl out of a tiny X-wing fighter.

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[There must be more movies worth not seeing this summer. Please add to the list in the comments so I know what not to buy a ticket for.]

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Jesus and the Fifth Amendment – falsely condemned by his own words

Having your words twisted and used against you hurts. It especially hurts when coming from those you are trying to help.

Unjust Accusers

Jesus stood trial before people who had been aching for the chance to get him out of the way permanently.

The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”

“You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?”

“He is worthy of death,” they answered. (Matthew 26:63-66.)

Jesus stands accused: José de Madrazo, Jesús en casa de Anás (1803) (Wikipedia)

To Jesus’ accusers, the failure to deny outright was the same as an admission. Jesus could not deny it in any case, of course, since he is the promised Messiah and Savior, the Son of Man and Son of God. Jesus said the Son of Man is equal to God as they knew him, echoing Daniel’s prophecy centuries earlier which foresaw the effect of the incarnation of God as human and yet still ruler of all creation.

In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man [i.e., God the Son], coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days [i.e., God the Father] and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13-14.)

The religious leaders would have known Jesus was applying this prophecy to himself in his answers to them.

Falsely Condemned but Not Falsely Accused

They accused Jesus of claiming to be God. This is not a false accusation.

They also condemned him for it. This is where things took a false turn. It all hinged on twisting his words against him to achieve a desired result. After all, his accusers had been looking for an excuse to kill him for a long time.

They gave orders to arrest him:

But the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that anyone who found out where Jesus was should report it so that they might arrest him. (John 11:57.)

… because they had long wanted him dead:

Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath.

He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus. (Mark 3:1-2, 5-6.)

So upon his capture the religious leaders held a trial, questioned him, and twisted his words against him to achieve the conclusion they desired. His execution.

The injustice of this ancient trial and condemnation is clearest today for people who live in countries where accused women and men are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, where they cannot be forced to say anything either for or against themselves, and they are tried in courts presided over by neutral judges with juries of people who have no interest in the case.

It’s the part about Jesus being questioned at all three of his trials – before the Sanhedrin (the Jewish religious leaders), Herod (Rome’s puppet king over Galilee, Jesus’ home) and Pilate (the Roman Governor over Jerusalem) – that stands out most starkly for those who know the United States Constitution. One of its principal guarantees for a fair trial is the right to be free from self-incrimination.

No person … shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself … . (U.S. Constitution, Fifth Amendment.)

You might think that compelling someone to be a witness in favor of themselves is not prohibited since a literal reading only forecloses being compelled to be a witness against herself or himself. Yet when Jesus spoke the truth about fulfilling prophecy the religious leaders claimed to believe in, his words were used not to exonerate him but to condemn him. The drafters of the Fifth Amendment knew their history and had seen the same twisting of an accused person’s testimony against them through the centuries, continuing to cultures and courts of their own time.

The Right to Remain Silent

In modern American courts, a prosecutor who calls the accused person to the stand has committed error and ends up with a mistrial. Juries are instructed not to draw any inferences from the right not to testify, not to discuss it or use the circumstance in any way in deliberating on the charges, and to put the burden completely on the prosecution to prove by the evidence that the charge is true beyond a reasonable doubt.

If Jesus had these rights in his trials, would it have made a difference in the outcome? Unlikely, since those who arrested him and brought him to trial sought not justice but his death. This too was in fulfillment of prophecy.

By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
    Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
    for the transgression of my people he was punished.
He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
    and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
    nor was any deceit in his mouth. (Isaiah 53:8-9.)

His judgment was a product of oppression, his words held nothing but truth, and his death was punishment for other people’s wrongdoings. His was an undeserved death. And he did it for you.

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5.)

Your peace with God came through Jesus’ choice not to stand on his rights nor his  authority as the Son of Man, Messiah, and Son of God.

He did this because he loves you.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:17.)

***

[A (facetious) cinematic take on self-incrimination – I Shot the Clerk? from My Cousin Vinny:]

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God’s Tenderness – explosive and overwhelming

[From the archives.]

Tenderness, noun: expressing warm, affectionate feelings; being kind and merciful; possessing gentle and delicate qualities; providing care and protectiveness. (Dictionary.com.)

Explosive Tenderness

Otis Redding took the word tenderness and turned it on its head. It’s not that he changed the definition. It’s that he blew it up.

When Otis sang that we should try a little tenderness, he showed us the power that true tenderness has. He seemingly finished the song, but then kept retaking the stage over and over to tell us that you’ve got-got-got-got-got-nah-nah-nah-got-to try a little tenderness.

By the time you reach the end of this video, tell me if you’ll ever think of tenderness the same way again.

Did you notice how the host kept moving in to take the microphone from Otis and then had to get out of the way as Otis returned again and again to shout out about tenderness? Otis overwhelmed the stage, blowing up the whole concept of what tenderness really looks like.

This reminds me of God’s tenderness: explosive and overwhelming.

The Power of God’s Tenderness

When Jesus’ cousin John was born, his father Zechariah sang his own song:

And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.” (Luke 1:76-79.)

This is a tenderness that will accomplish much, a tenderness which causes the sun to rise, which overcomes the darkness and delivers us from the shadow of death, a tenderness that brings peace through the knowledge of salvation and forgiveness of sins. This tender mercy of God is not weakness. It is explosive, blowing up the world’s attempts to order things in ungodly ways.

God's tenderness

This is a tenderness that also brings the gentle love of God to his people, the Bride of Christ:

“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. … There she will respond as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt. In that day,” declares the Lord, “you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master.’” (Hosea 2:14-16.)

No longer Master, but Husband. Our God loves us, and he does it tenderly. It’s overwhelming.

What powerful tenderness, explosively overwhelming.

Let’s all try that tenderness.

***

Bonus tenderness – A lot of people have tried to do a cover version of Otis Redding’s take on the classic ballad, and these two clips are among the best I’ve found:

Paul Giamatti and Arnold McCuller sang it for the film Duets. (That’s Andre Braugher playing the part opposite Giamatti, but McCuller blended his voice with Braugher’s for the singing parts of the film.)

Jamie Bruce performed it in his blind audition on The Voice UK. Can you see how excited the judges get listening to him nail it? will.i.am didn’t hesitate to vote yes, and Tom Jones might have taken his time but you can see from the look on his face how much he appreciates Jamie.

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The Arrogance of Masculinity and Femininity

It is arrogance in us to call frankness, fairness, and chivalry ‘masculine’ when we see them in a woman; it is arrogance in them to describe a man’s sensitiveness or tact or tenderness as ‘feminine.’ (C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed.)

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When the Son of God entered the world as a baby, grew into boyhood and then became an adult, he did so for all people, women and men both. His is not a life designed merely for men to emulate, but for girls and boys, women and men to see and follow.

Here’s what that looks like.

Traits of Jesus’ Own Life

  • Getting emotional:

When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

Jesus wept. (John 11:32-35.)

  • Having courage:

[T]hen he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

“But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?” …

Then Thomas said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (John 11:7-8, 16.)

  • Being submissive:

He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:41-42.)

  • Showing leadership:

As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him. (Mark 1:16-18.)

These examples are not exhaustive, but give the picture that Jesus was not bound by expectations of masculinity or femininity – not in his own society and most certainly not by modern Western notions of those cultural constructs. And he said we will do the same and more.

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. …

All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. (John 14:12, 25-26.)

We know what it looks like to follow the Holy Spirit who leads us in the way of Jesus. It looks like this:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23.)

Where is the masculine and feminine in that list? A better question is to ask where in that list are the traits meant solely for men and those meant solely for women.

You won’t find that type of delineation in the way God’s people are to live. He calls us to be Christ-like by the power of the Spirit of Christ within us. There are no masculine traits in your life in Christ, just as there are no feminine traits. All traits are of Christ, or they are not worth having at all.

So to say that someone is a Godly man or woman is not to say they are acting in a particularly masculine or feminine manner, but that they happen to be a man or woman who is acting in a Christ-like way led by the Spirit. The manner in which they act might even be identical: getting emotional, having courage, being submissive, showing leadership – each of these are traits of women and men who follow Jesus Christ. There’s nothing masculine or feminine about it.

All About Jesus

It’s all about Jesus and growing into the likeness of him.

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:17-18.)

Jesus spoke of the freedom he delivers to his people as well.

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.(John 8:36.)

“Free indeed” gives the impression of being utterly, fully and irrevocably free. Jesus spoke of this freedom in the context of slavery to sin and reliance on legalism to claim righteousness., and ultimately to find they were relying on Satan and his ways. (John 8:31-47.)

This is what Paul addressed in his letter to the Galatians as well.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1.)

This freedom from the burden of slavery refers to the crushing burden of living according to the world’s ways as opposed to life in the Spirit of Christ, the life Paul mentions later in Galatians 5 (that is, the fruit of the Spirit quoted above).

Satan would rather you follow rules and the ways of the world rather then live in the freedom of the ways of Jesus.

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. (Colossians 2:8.)

Rules about masculinity and femininity are based on human tradition. They change from culture to culture, time to time.

  • Men kissing each other when greeting? Sure, in some parts of the world but not so much in others.
  • Women covering themselves head to toe to conceal all their skin from public view? Again, this is considered a requirement for women in some parts of the world but not in others.
  • And in some regions a wife walks several paces behind her husband to show that she is acting sufficiently feminine while he stays to the front to show he is sufficiently masculine.

What do they all have in common? Not one is found in the Bible as a requirement for women or men.

Remember: ideas of what is masculine and feminine are not biblical but cultural. That means they are human tradition and not of the Holy Spirit, destined to fail because they are not of Christ.

These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. (Colossians 2:17.)

What are you to do then as a woman or man of God? You are to follow the Spirit who leads both men and women to bear his fruit. Be loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle and self-controlled. These aren’t masculine or feminine.

These are Jesus.

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The United States Has Never Been a Christian Nation – a 4th of July post

[Updated from the archives.]

Happy Birthday, America!

Today marks 241 years since the Second Continental Congress gathered in Philadelphia to draft and sign the Declaration of Independence. To commemorate the day, let’s remember this:

The United States is not now and never has been
a Christian nation

How do I know? Because the founding document that provides the framework for all laws, rules, decisions and regulations ever passed, enacted or handed down by the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of government nowhere mentions Christianity.*

It doesn’t even mention God. Not once.

The only time the Constitution of the United States – adopted September 17, 1787 – mentions religion at all is in the negative:

… no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States. (Art. VI.)

Religion comes up again in the 1st Amendment, proposed by Congress in 1789 as an additional article to the Constitution and ratified by the States in 1791, and again it’s in the negative:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof … .

So if the original text of 1787 said religion has no place in the qualifications of people holding office and if the 1st Amendment leads off with a prohibition on the government establishing any religion, Christianity or otherwise, then how does someone come to the conclusion that the United States is a Christian nation?

Wishful thinking perhaps. Or living in a state of denial. Or blissful ignorance. Or worse, they do it to pander to people and take advantage of them.

In any case, none of these are good models for Christians to emulate. Jesus said we live in a world where there are two governments to live under.

“Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not? Should we pay or shouldn’t we?”

… “Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”

“Caesar’s,” they replied.

Then Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” (Mark 12:14-17.)

Paul reiterated the distinction between the two governments:

For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. … Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. (Philippians 3:18-20.)

Neither Jesus nor Paul promoted a Christian nation of any sort on earth, and the U.S. Constitution doesn’t try to establish one either.

This is a wonderful country to live in, with a constitution that provides more for the benefit of its citizens than most people could ever imagine possible. But while these are blessings from God when carried out to help people, that doesn’t make this a Christian nation.

After all, nations aren’t believers in Jesus. People believe in Jesus. And that’s how God builds the kingdom of Christ. Through his people.

What a great way to constitute his kingdom.

***

*The Articles of Confederation of 1777 – the governing charter of the United States before the Constitution – did not establish a Christian nation either. The only mention of religion is in Article III:

The said states hereby severally enter into a firm league of friendship with each other, for their common defence, the security of their Liberties, and their mutual and general welfare, binding themselves to assist each other, against all force offered to, or attacks made upon them, or any of them, on account of religion, sovereignty, trade, or any other pretence whatever.

The inclusion of religion alongside “sovereignty, trade, or any other pretence whatever” reflected the times: wars of religion were part and parcel of European history. This article did not endorse any religion but did stand to promote religious liberty by pledging aid for religiously based attacks.

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Even If: a hard-learned lesson of faith in the midst of change

[Today’s guest post is from Kaylyn Whitley, who has some experience with letting go and finding faith.]

Early in the morning of March 9th, I was standing in front of my bathroom mirror trying to get ready for class, but was instead crying hysterically for the first time in almost seven years. I was a Teacher’s Assistant for a graduate professor, and I was substituting that day; which meant I was giving the lecture that morning. What no one knew was that two days prior, I had dropped out of seminary. I was fine, and happy as I usually was when I got to lecture, but then “Even If” by MercyMe came on my Spotify. I was trying to sing along, but had lost it by the start of the second verse.

“They say it only takes a little faith to move a mountain. Well, good thing, a little faith is all I have right now. But, God, when You choose to leave mountains unmovable, oh, give me the strength to be able to sing, ‘It is well with my soul.'” (MercyMe, Even If.)

The thought “What have you done?” in regards to quitting school, crossed my mind over and over again. I knew I had lost my financial aid by leaving, so I knew changing my mind wasn’t going to be an option. I had no “Plan B,” and no faith to go along with the uncertainty that I was feeling about everything. The irony is that my lecture that day was on faith and repentance.

Fast forward to today – late June – and I’m an unemployed, university graduate but seminary dropout, still without a plan. In late May, I applied for what would have been a dream job for me. As I was waiting and waiting for June 16th to find out whether or not I would get an interview, I was constantly reminding myself of the promises of God:

  • He who began a good work in me will see it through to completion (Phil 1:6).
  • I will cast all my cares on Him because He cares for me (1 Peter 5:7).
  • He will sustain me and not let the righteous fall (Psalm 55:22).
  • God has a plan of hope for my future (Jer 29:11).
  • Stop worrying. God’s got this (Phil 4:6-7).
  • If God takes such good care of the birds, He’ll take even greater care of me and my needs (Matt 6:25-34).
  • No matter what happens, God will work all things together for my good and according to His purpose (Rom 8:28).

This list nowhere near exhausts the promises of God, but I was able to muster up enough faith to remind myself not to count God out. However, June 16th came and went with no call for an interview. Yet, I found a familiar phrase still stuck in my head from months prior: “Even if.”

In a dark, quiet moment one night, it was like I heard God speaking to me:

Kaylyn, even if it doesn’t look at all like you had hoped for and dreamed about, will you still follow Me?

Kaylyn, even if it doesn’t happen when you thought it should have, will you still trust Me?

Kaylyn, even if it doesn’t happen at all, because My plan for you isn’t what You thought it would be, will you still worship Me?

Will you still love Me, even if?

Will you still serve Me, even if?

Because, no matter what, I’m still here. I’m still your ever-faithful God who goes before you, and I know the plans I have for you; even if you don’t understand it all right now.

So, Kaylyn, even if … will I still be your God?

Once again, I gathered up my mustard seed sized faith, and from somewhere deep inside my heart I managed to pray, “Yes, LORD, even if … through whatever ‘if’ may be.”

You’ve been faithful, You’ve been good all of my days.
Jesus, I will cling to You, come what may.
‘Cause I know You’re able. I know You can. …
But even if You don’t, my hope is You alone.
(MercyMe, Even If.)

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Kaylyn Whitley is a twenty-something who is still trying to figure out and find her place in this crazy journey called “life.” She is a graduate of Liberty University, where she earned her B.S. in Religious Studies: Theology and Apologetics with a minor in Biblical Studies. Her love of God and theology was the catalyst that sparked her passion for egalitarianism, gender equality, and women’s rights. Connect with Kaylyn on her blog Follow Your Arrow, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

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