To Its Logical End

If logic is your god, at least make logical decisions….

Logic

I have some friends who do not believe what I believe… heck, none of my friends agree with me completely in my beliefs. This, in-and-of itself is an interesting thought to ponder. Do you completely and wholeheartedly agree across the board with anyone who carries the same general belief structure as you do? I would venture to say that the answer to this question [if answered honestly] is no one hundred percent of the time.

As humans we are shaped by our experiences, insecurities, what we believe to be true and our ability to carry a situation to its logical end, or maybe it’s our inability to do so.

[disclaimer: If we get into semantics I would agree that there is more that shapes us as people than just these four things, but generally speaking, most any situation can fit into this categorization]

As I mentioned, I have some friends who do not believe what I believe, one of them in particular has continually challenged me in my faith by telling me that I should be more logical in my thinking and give no weight to faith in “God”, because it isn’t scientifically possible. For the duration of our friendship I have been the “Christian” and he the “Atheist”, a yin and yang that has brought about incredibly intimacy through heated and refining conversations for both of us.

One of the things I am most grateful for from our friendship is the way that God has used him in my life to keep me from being a ‘kooky right wing Westboro Baptist version of a Christian’. He specifically forces me to take every single belief I have to its logical end; this is a process that I have tried to adapt in most of my decision making.

I began thinking about writing this post after overhearing, and without tact, butting into a conversation that involved someone I care about dearly. [She will remain nameless to respect her personal life]. She is anxious for a dude to get out of prison in hopes that he will return with polished armor and be the prince who will swoop her into happily ever after. And while pursuing this situation, continually tells my wife and I that “she wants what we have”, and if we let logic run its course on the details of her situation… I don’t think the numbers add up.

So, why… why do we fight so hard for the life decisions that are so contradictory to logic, let alone the idea of taking logic to its very end? Back to my dear friend who believes differently than me and has helped me be a better man because of it. He always tells me that “logic and reason” should be our guide, not a high in the sky esoteric deity.

Look around… think about the last time you read or watched the news, our world is ignorantly selfish and irrational in its decision making. But, somehow these individuals would rather be left to the fate of their gods: logic, reason and karma. It is logical to understand that the way humans treat one another is unreasonable and I pray to God that we’re not left to karma, because we’d all be damned.

To what end is your logic leading you? Is it leading you to self-preservation and honor and respect of others? Or, is it leading you to a broken heart, years as the victim and a perpetuation of the insecurities that eat you alive from the inside? Is your logic leading you closer to God, the author of all the we want to experience as humans: love, joy, hope, peace and grace. Or, does our stubbornness tell us to abandon that nonsense because it interferes with our decision making? With the way we make decisions, any interference would be a blessing.

Think about it… Evaluate it… Do something about it…

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Pastor Greg Rohlinger on Suffering and God’s Plan

Greg is the Pastor at Palm Valley Church in Goodyear Arizona. He has been diagnosed with Multiple System Atrophy with Parkinsonism; basically his brain is trying to shut his body down. This is just one of those situations where I most certainly could not say it any better. I love how Greg approaches his terminal illness and how he allows for God to still be all love and all good. I feel like I’ve come across a lot of people who are dealing with hurt or disappointment or suffering lately. Most recently we had a friend die tragically over the weekend. It can be very hard to deal with hurt and disappointment within the confines of Christianity and a Loving God. Our prayers are with his family in these hours of mourning and deep hurt. Parents just shouldn’t outlive their children, it’s so amazingly difficult and my heart breaks for the family. It was this incident that in some way lead me to post this video. So many people are going through hurt and often times I think we ask “:why” but aren’t actually prepared to deal with the answer. We can be very quick to blame God or defame him when “bad” things happen. Atheists love to use “bad” things and the work of evil to suggest that God must not be real and if He is that they would not want to serve someone who would allow such things. What’s worse though is when we as believers use tragedy as a point of disbelief and allow our faith to be shaken. Dealing with heartache and tragedy and pain and disappointment is almost never easy but I believe this video helps with some perspective and I think Greg really nails it on the head. So, I’ll get out of the way and let you just watch the video as was the original intent. I hope you are blessed!

Sincerely,

Ryan

The Balance of the Bible

20130507-233352.jpgAlthough I’m not a bible scholar, seminary graduate or the product of a nice Christian up-bringing, I have been identified as a Christian for going on 13 years. Not that time spent has a great deal of weight on what someone can know or the quality of their life, but it could, and in my case it does.

There are a list of trials both self inflicted and experienced that have led me further down this road that the Bible would classify as “narrow”, for those that find it. And at each fork in the road I have had to dig in, hold on tight and continually admit that I don’t know a whole lot about God or how He works. A process I’m sure will continue for the remainder of my time here [on earth].

Amidst so many of these experiences I have drawn closer to the Gospel[s] of Jesus Christ, Psalms and Proverbs and loosened my grip on the Epistles, which honestly used to be my Gospel. The past few years specifically have made me cling to the voice of Holy Spirit and the reflection of who Jesus was/is, how he interacted with humanity, and what seemed to be most important to Him as He interacted with His craftsmanship. A majority of the verses that we use against other humans are A. removed from their contextual home in order to support someones opinion or B. not from the words of Jesus specifically.

When Jesus spares a woman caught in adultery, we would rather respond w/ words from Paul about sexual purity and its guilt stricken place in the Christian faith. What we have learned as Christians is that when someone else commits a wrong we are to “correct” them in “love” as Paul commands, but when it is us we shout from the rooftops for our accusers to take the plank of wood out of their eye. In other words, we want to feel holy by making sure that someone else knowns they screwed up and that they must seek repentance, but when we are the ones wearing those shoes we want everyone to take the time to examine their own hearts and lives before saying anything about ours.

This not only seems kinda dumb, but it is the reason that a lot of people get hurt in the world and business of church. There is no room for honesty, freedom, submission or obedience in the Church because we are all too busy bull-shittin about how someone else has decided to live their life. If, and only if we are able to talk about real things in the church and make it more about regeneration than outreach will we see a revival of hungry hearts not just fare-weather fans!

Here are some things that Jesus talked about that we don’t [especially to the youth] like to discuss because most of us probably don’t agree 100% on these topics.
Demons
Prayer as a continual conversation with God
Grace
Drinking
Spending time with people who do bad things
Endless forgiveness
Joy
and others

I am praying for a paradigm shift where honesty out weighs a congregations perception of a pastor; if I had to guess, Jesus wasn’t very concerned with how people perceived Him because He knew that His integrity was more dense than the flash of someone else’s word[s].

Remember that Jesus said, “… on earth as it is in heaven.” He said, “go out into all the world [the places that you are called or have great passion for] and baptize people in my name through Holy Spirit and water.”

Bring heaven here.
Get out of your church.
Love well.
Don’t be an asshole to people that you don’t understand.
Be honest with kids [10 and up]. If they don’t learn about it from you they will learn about it from someone.
Get pissed if the situation calls for a righteous display of justice

As a bible-believing man, I believe that there is balance in the scriptures, in our churches and our hearts, but it is up to you [me] to listen to Holy Spirit, weigh motives and truly act like Jesus did; because when we do that, people want what Jesus is offering.

Thanks for reading!
If you think I’m way off please feel free to let me know; I’m always up for the conversation.

DG

Leave Room for God

I got to thinking about this idea while in Yosemite with my In-laws.  As a side note, if you’ve never been, it’s worth the trip; one of the more majestic and beautiful landscapes I’ve ever seen.  Strangely, the recent events in Boston got me thinking about it again but there will have to be another post.  Anyway, we were driving back to the cabin from dinner and my mother in law and wife started talking about how a glacier carved through the mountain thousands of years ago and created the Yosemite Valley as we know it.  This of course led to a discussion about macro vs. micro evolution, which of course led to a discussion about creation, which led to a mild disagreement about the completion of God’s creation.  If you don’t believe in creation and can actually wrap your head around the idea of a single particle which existed outside of time and space somehow exploding into everything that exists, then I admire your level of faith.  For the rest of us I think this is an interesting discussion.  One of the things I love about my faith is the journey it takes.  I have opinions and stances now that may have seemed crazy to me only a few years ago.  I’ve had experiences that point to previously dismissed ideas being realities.  It’s really wild and at the same time really rad how being willing to challenge yourself and wrestle with your own status-quo in the midst of your Savior can evolve your point of view and bolster your understanding.  That to say, who knows, maybe a year or ten from now I’ll think differently or maybe my family will but my initial reaction to the idea of creation via glacier wasn’t necessarily agreement.  At the very least I didn’t, and really still don’t, want to believe that Yosemite (nor most anything) was created by happenstance.  Does a God who declares me fearfully and wonderfully made and who knows all the hairs on my head leave creation to chance?  Maybe.  Maybe he designed nature to evolve.  Maybe he sent that glacier into motion.  Maybe it was just a natural phenomenon.  For me though, it’s hard to take God out of the equation.  I fear control and definite knowledge far more than the unknown; far more than ruling God out.  I choose to leave room for God in the creation of Yosemite.  I choose to leave room for God to fill my wife’s still barren womb with life.  I choose to leave room for God in the midst of the Boston bombings.  I choose to leave room for God in the fate of our country.  I choose to leave room for God in the plans for my future.  I hope for less of me and more of Him.  I yearn to be completely out of control.  I choose to leave room for God.  Maybe this causes you to think, maybe i’m just way behind in my understanding but please share your thoughts either way.

Stay Naked,

Ryan

New Years Restitution

res·ti·tu·tion

[res-ti-too-shuh n, -tyoo-]

noun

1. reparation made by giving an equivalent or compensation for loss, damage, or injury caused; indemnification.

2. the restoration of property or rights previously taken away, conveyed, or surrendered.

3. restoration to the former or original state or position.

4. Physics. the return to an original physical condition, especially after elastic deformation.

In a season full of resolutions I got to thinking, “There has to be something better”. Most resolutions have to do with starting something good or quitting something bad and in many cases one resolution does both. For example, someone resolving to go to the gym is doing something good in that very action and quitting something bad, like being lazy. The problem I guess is that very few resolutions actually come with any resolve. We know this because for many of us we make the same ones year after year. If we had really resolved to do it in the first place we wouldn’t have to come back it. Sure some of these resolutions are misguided and come after a night full of drinking – either while still in an alcohol induced state of increased confidence or in the fetal position wrapped around the toilet the morning after – so maybe we exclude those ones. Of course that would not apply to any of us ;), but we at least know someone we can attribute this to. It is dawning on me that most of this paragraph is useless to the point. Right, so the bottom line is that most resolutions are crap. If you’ve resolved to read the Bible every day, definitely do that. If you’ve resolved to get in better shape, definitely do that. If you’ve resolved to love more/better, definitely do that. Resolutions aren’t inherently bad, we’re inherently bad at keeping them. This brings me back to the point I think.

Restitution. I would encourage you to take the new year, each and every day in it, to focus on restitution. Be restitute (I’ll explain). Think back to when you were a kid. How easy was it for you to believe something and express this belief by blindly living in it? I never saw Santa in my house but I believed he was real; wrote letters to him and everything. The same can be said about our belief in Christ and what was done for us, the ultimate restitution. Insert John 3:16 here. There was a time in all of us who have accepted Him as King when we had faith like a child. Since then, life has thrown us many dirty curve balls. Some of us more than others for sure but none of us are excluded. I wrestle with God all the time. Sometimes I wonder if what I believed to be true necessarily is. Sometimes I feel like his promises are missing or are taking too long to come through. Sometimes I simply wonder, “Why?”. What saves me in these moments or days or weeks is restitution. I become restitute in my faith. I become restitute in what I know to be true. I become restitute in my time with God(Thank you Holy Spirit!). Most importantly though, God is restitute. Constantly. We know that he is omniscient and omnipotent and omnipresent and all love but are we living like we know he is also omni-restitute? All day, every day, God is laying out a path for our restitution; a way to become as we were in The Garden…perfect. His desire is for us to be not only holy but redeemed…restituted. The best part is, He does not fail. The free gift of salvation through grace is our path to final restitution but we can try each day to meet Him on this path. He tried to do this without sacrificing his son (think lots of water and an Ark) but we screwed that one up of course. Eventually Jesus was hung on a cross and rose again. God does not fail. Final restitution. I think God appreciates our resolve when we actually have it but I also think He wants, deserves and expects more. Naked we came in, restitute am I in getting naked again.

Cheers,

Ryan

“Taste of Ink” – Taboo Tattoos

Some of you may recognize the title as the name of a punk rock song by The Used. Very sacrilegious of me I know and I love it! There is something to be said about the sort of desire for tattoos one gains after they get their first but that’s beside the point. Instead of wasting 100 more words on set up I’ll just direct you to the below photo:

Tattooed Taboo

The thread goes on in support of our friend and even contains some examples from others who have been spiritually harassed for their appearance. One even got told she would be going to hell because of her tattoos (this occurred in a Hobby Lobby which I can totally picture and find hilarious). So why write about it?

I think in a way, it’s things like this that spawned us even wanting to start this purposefully button pushing site (I haven’t even spoken to Dennis about this so we’ll likely here from him too 🙂 ). As I think about it, this also kind of ties in with Dennis’ recent post on dinosaurs. The things that we’ll say to each other in the name of our God are insane. It would be easy to just rant about the idiocy of believers (post on this word to follow, OMG) and the ridiculous lies we live by but maybe (though it’s hard for me) I’ll spare the rant.

Do we find people saying things like tattoos and piercings and sagging pants (yes people really associated saggy pants with sinfulness) will land us in hell because it’s an accurate summation? No!! I have to think that people say things like this out of their own insecurity, uncomfortableness and/or incompetence. As society grows and changes, too many people are found living in the past and the “security” of how it used to be. This would be fine if that’s where it stopped; ignorance is bliss after all. The problem is that people are such jack asses that they actually think it’s okay to run around casting unfounded judgements on guys like our Facebook friend and Dennis and I alike. I mean if my half sleeve is a ticket to hell then surely so also is my use of the word “ass” not more than a sentence ago. And let’s not even talk about the thoughts I had when that guy cut me off the other day. Ironically (if my wife is reading this I apologize for probably using irony wrong 😉 ) the person riding the tidal wave of inappropriateness and consequential sin is the aforementioned donkey that has the gall to make inaccurate judgments and accusations against a total stranger.

How about we try getting to know people and not getting immediately to why someone is different and doesn’t belong and therefore must be off track with Jesus and certainly far from salvation. I can tell you right now that if the moron that asked our Facebook friend to check his walk with Jesus instead took the time to get to know him at all, he would have been blown away by the incredible man that stood before him. A man that seeks after God’s own heart and His will for him and his family as genuinely as I’ve ever seen. So ya, screw that guy but more importantly good on all of you who are living naked and throwing conformity to the wayside. Good on all of you who are the true hipsters and live in acceptance of the minorities. Good on all of you who are loving on your gay friends the same as your straight ones and black ones the same as your white ones and brown ones the same as well you get the point. The Body of Christ is about unity, about gathering together in our differences to be on the same page about one thing…The Gospel. My pastor likes to refer to the upside down, inside out, backwards gospel. For the record, he’s referring to the actual gospel. The actual call of our Lord. The actual purpose of our lives on earth. As Christians we’re not supposed to make sense. We’re not suppose to conform and we’re not supposed to find safety in the good old days. Get with it people. We serve a radical God. A true nonconformist. The ultimate challenger of the status-quo. So I don’t know, stay wild and free I guess. Get a tattoo if you want, gauge your ears until your lobes break whatever makes you comfortable but seek after the truth about your God, your Father and your Savior.

Maybe I’ll post pictures after my tattoo appointment this week. haha, oh the irony!

Stay Wild,

Ryan