I don’t want an airbrushed god

The Tenth Avenue North song I Confess has been hitting me hard recently.

I confess, I admit
I look for life outside of You
I repent, I’m coming back
To the only joy that’s true
I don’t want to look in a stranger’s eyes
When I come into this place
Let me grow familiar with the lines
The lines upon Your face

I’ve listened to this song a hundred times, but today I decided to think about what it would really look like to know the lines on God’s face.

When you know someone’s face well, you can tell when they use a filter on it. You can tell when Snapchat smushed their face or enlarged their eyes. You can tell when their camera has face-smoothing on. They look slightly unfamiliar to you since you know them so well.

If you took that to the spiritual realm, it seems to me like it’ll look a lot like the American church today. We’ve tried to make a palatable god, one we can understand, one without acne or who’s face is a bit asymmetrical, one that didn’t order the extermination of millions of Caananites during the Israelites’ conquest or who lets bad things happen to people who are trying to be good.

As I’ve been studying for my Doctrine 1 final, I’ve realized that there are so many theological positions that start from an assumption of “I can’t understand how this can be true, so it must not be, since God is rational.” and I genuinely can’t understand the mentality that needs to understand God in that way. I take comfort knowing that there will always be things I can’t understand, truths that are as true as their opposites (or are they actually complements?), and a God who is more glorious than I could ever explain to anyone. A god who makes sense to me is one who I am equal with. And He is gracious enough that that will never be the case.

I don’t want an airbrushed God. Because his ugliness is more beautiful than the finest forests he’s created, breath-taking Covenant sunrises, or whatever else you find incredibly lovely.

If you think that you need to hide the flaws you see in God from those you want to know Him, then I don’t think you truly know Him, so for your own sake you should get to know the lines upon His face. For if you erase the aspects of Him that you don’t like, He ceases to be Himself and becomes instead who you want Him to be, which will always be inferior. Your god then is yourself, and that will never be sufficient.

May you learn the lines upon His face.

Doubting Doubts Gives Us Faith

I just read a really, really, really good post called Faith and Doubt (and how they coexist) at Rethink.
You should go read it. Then you can read my thoughts on it.

It starts off with a great hook:

I’d bet that at some point every person has had some doubts about their faith. But despite the prevalence of doubt in our spiritual walks it’s rarely talked about or acknowledged. And when it is, often I hear doubt talked about negatively. You shouldn’t doubt. You can’t question that. You know what the Bible says is true. We downplay this pivotal piece of our faith journeys.

I can’t tell you how excited I was to read that first paragraph. It was so good to hear someone being honest about the onslaught of doubt that most serious, thinking Christians experience.

I’ve just been reading through Job as part of my yearly Bible plan, and this quote (from the abovementioned post) resonated so much inside my soul.

I screenshot parts of posts that I really like, and this was all just so good!

I left a really long comment/testimony on the post and then realized I should just turn it into a blog post, haha, so here goes:

I am a very analytical person, so I want to understand everything. This means that I put myself in the shoes (and the brains) of other people so that I understand their position. This can get me into trouble when I don’t have a good way to rebut their ideas. I also have a strong dislike of pursuing worthless ends and wasting time. Thus, I constantly analyze what I believe so that I know it’s the truth.

I went through an intense period of examining my faith about a year ago, coming up with what-if situations for Christianity like what if it’s actually a conspiracy, a fake, a lie that we’ve been indoctrinated into? It was really hard for me, despite having grown up having no doubts that God existed and that His Word was true. I struggled mightily for a long time, asking God to confirm His Truth to me in a way I couldn’t doubt.

It all culminated during a staff Bible study this past summer when the staff of Camp Gilead were reading through and praying Psalm 139. All the doubts I had pushed away or half-explained came pouring and pounding into my head, and I realized it was a make or break moment. Either I let the doubts destroy my faith by ignoring them (making me insecure in my faith), or I needed to follow the doubts to their logical end and destroy them once and for all.

I ended up crying a lot that night, but I didn’t shy away from the doubts. I followed them to their source and dared them to try their very best to destroy me.

They couldn’t.

Our God is so much greater than any of the doubts I could ever have, and no doubts make sense without the context of absolute Truth, so they automatically fail anyway.

I was set free that night from the overwhelming doubts that had plagued me for so long, and now I have a new unshakeable confidence in credulity of the Bible and in the God whom my faith rests in.
I still have to ward off the little doubts on occassion, but that comes with the territory of being right, I suppose, haha.

God is not scared of our doubts, so we shouldn’t be either. I listened to their sales pitch and then watched them self-destruct when confronted with Scripture, logic, and The Truth.

Recently, I stumbled onto a song that gave me the title of this post, Doubting Doubts by Citizens & Saints. I wanted to imbed it, but my YouTube app is acting up so you’re getting a link, haha. I absolutely love the musicality of this song, but also the authenticity of the lyrics, their raw vulnerability.

In another vein, our God is so great. I’ve been digging Joshua Aaron’s version (half in Hebrew, half in English) of How Great Is Our God.

Thanks for reading; I hope it encourages you as you work out your salvation with fear and trembling.

Deus est Bonus! (God is Good!)

-Sydney

Don’t Fight It!

I worked as a Junior Counselor this summer at a Christian summer camp.

But I didn’t sign up to be a counselor.  I never would have signed up to be one.  

This winter/spring, my friends were trying to convince me to apply to CG.  I told them ‘nah’ over and over again until they finally sent me the job description for Media Assistant.  After realizing that fit it to a tee, I begrudgingly agreed to fill out the application and see what happened.  

As I filled in my crazy long application, I realized that it was something God was leading me to do, and I felt very strongly that I was going to be accepted, though I couldn’t have told you why.

Fast forward a couple months, and I got a call from the co-Director, Mrs. K.  I was super nervous, but she was very sweet and put me at ease. 🙂 She told me that they were removing the media positions, but that they still wanted me to work for them, so would I consider being a Junior Counselor?  I was so elated by the fact that they actually liked me that I said ‘Sure!’  

Later, I realized that I had valid reasons for not signing up to be a counselor in the first place.

  1. I don’t know how to talk to/handle little kids.  
  2. I’ve only been to camp once in my life, and that was for a teen week, which is always different than every other week.
  3. *most importantly* I didn’t know how to be a counselor!!

So, I was slightly panicking in the weeks after that phone call.  

However, the two weeks I worked (plus a week and a half of staff time) grew me in ways I could never have imagined.  

I went through an intense stretching process in that very short (yet extremely long) time. I almost had a nervous breakdown, took a couple of voluntary naps for the first time in my life (which helped stave off the previous point), and bonded with an amazing group of people who were just a bunch of scary strangers (#homeschoollife) a month or two before.  I wouldn’t have survived without God’s strength in me and without the support group (we’re called counselors for a reason!) that He generously provided.  

Our assistant director, D, and his girlfriend, the head counselor, Miss E, poured into us counselors as our spiritual “parents.”  They had prayed for a whole new summer staff, and we were their answer.  They genuinely loved us and expressed that verbally and practically as often as they could.  

Everyone knew that God had brought each of us there for a reason, and the full-time staff members made us feel appreciated and loved, individually and corporately.  

It was a summer beyond my wildest expectations.

And to think that I had fought it.  

We usually don’t know what’s good for us. However, God does.  If you let Him plan your life instead of you (not with), it pays off.  Believe me. God knows. 

Before you set your mind against something, pray about it and make sure that you aren’t about to miss God’s next right turn. 🙂

-Squid

The Truth is Unchanging

I hope that the reblog I posted last week made you really think about what you believe, and helped you see what you don’t. Today I’m going to repost one of my own blog posts from a while back, a poem.  This summed up what I believed and still do.  I hope you enjoy it and that it rings true in your heart.

Believed for so long
“Known” to be true.
Evolution from soup
Of me and you.

Creationists laughed at
But would you believe it?
Call it science?

Growing from soup
By process unknown.
Little to no proof,
Wait, hold the phone.

You want me to believe that?
I’m just an accident?
With the design I see
All around me?

I’m sorry, no I just can’t,
There is no evidence.
Design always spawns from a designer,
Of that I’m completely sure.

Does this beautiful world look accidental…
To you?
Perfect systems in place
To keep us all glued.

I think that they’re wrong,
That we’ve been lied to.
I believe there’s a God,
He loves me and you.

Instead of nature, creation
Purposeful and perfect
Made with a plan
But we ruined it.

Instead of our eternal happiness,
We disobeyed, and on us a curse was placed.
Death and troubles, separation from God.
Could this be the end?  No it was not.

A sacrifice for us,
Taking the penalty,
Death’s new victim,
Oh! No, it couldn’t be!

Jesus Christ, God’s only son
Loved immeasurably, loves us as one.
He took our punishment, the grave.
Overcoming death, he saves!

Oh glorious day!
The curse has been broken,
The shackles fall down,
So why does the world endlessly frown?

Because Jesus saves,
We owe a debt gladly paid,
Telling the world
That they can be changed!

But the debt is unappealing,
Bondage!  They say.
They can save themselves,
It’s “easier” that way.

But they don’t understand
The gravity of their plight.
Jesus Christ is the only way,
The only one who can save the day.

The God of the universe is calling you,
What will you answer, what will you do?
He alone is mighty to save,
For you he died, his soul he gave.

Will you let him?
Let him save you.
Throw down your pride,
Let him love you.

From Do You Believe? (written and published by me 10 months ago)

I Want To Be Guilty

Recently the Christian band Newsboys (fronted by former dc Talk member Michael Tait) released a single called Guilty. I wasn’t sure how I’d like it when I saw it in their Spotify feed, but from the first line I loved it. A PDF of the lyrics are for download on their website but I wanted to share them on here too.

When did it become breaking a rule
To say your name out loud in school
When your name’s the only one that sets us free
When did it become incorrect
To speak the truth about life and death
When your life gave us all eternity
 
Even if it gets me convicted
I’ll still be on my knees with my hands lifted
 
If serving you’s against the law of man
If living out my faith in you is banned
Then I’ll stand right before the jury
 
If saying I believe is out of line
If I’m judged cause I’m gonna give my life
To show the world the love that fills me
Then I want to be Guilty
 
I’ll rise up and honor you
I’ll testify to all the good you do
cause your Grace and your Mercy have overtaken me

So even if it gets me convicted
I’ll still be on my knees with my hands lifted

If serving you’s against the law of man
If living out my faith in you is banned
Then I’ll stand right before the jury
 
If saying I believe is out of line
If I’m judged cause I’m gonna give my life
To show the world the love that fills me
Then I want to be Guilty
 
Guilty by association
Guilty of being a voice proclaiming
Your ways
Your truth
Your life
I’ll pay the price to be your light.

(Again, you can download the PDF of these lyrics here)

It’s a powerful message in light of the recent shootings directed at Christian students all over America, a place where we  shouldn’t have to fear persecution.  But times are changing, and our freedom is becoming less and less.

History lesson time!  In the first century Roman empire, (where and when Christianity first began) people were on fire for God but also facing death for admitting to following Christ.  This danger eliminated nominal Christianity and left the true believers who were willing to suffer for their Lord and Savior.  But when Constantine made Christianity the state religion in 380 AD, it became popular to go to church, and a social faux pas to not.  A comeback for nominal Christians, and the church was polluted with politics and status quos.  Sound familiar?
In America nominal Christians are using Christianity for profit, self-exaltation, etc. and to lead the sheep astray.  But if shootings – like this recent one in Chicago – become more frequent, I believe nominality (is that even a word?) will start becoming less common as people realize the real cost of following Christ, and what true Christianity looks like.

I’m going to pass along a similar question to the one our pastor asked us this past Sunday:

Would you admit to being guilty of following Christ if you knew you would die for it?

It’s a scary thought that I haven’t stopped thinking about since he asked us.  If I’m not 100% confident that I’m going to heaven, would I answer sign my own death warrant?  Of course not!  But the martyrs throughout the centuries, the former Muslims in the Middle East being executed by ISIS, and the college students in Chicago, they all had faith that came from something bigger than themselves.  They knew that this life was temporary anyway, and if they tried to prolong this brief shadow by lying, then they’d lose their eternal life.

“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
“Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.  But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.

Matthew 10:28, 32-33 NIV
http://bible.com/111/mat.10.28-33.NIV

What would your answer be?

God bless,

Squid

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