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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

questions why (surprise)

i often disagree with the comments people leave, but i welcome them just the same. i don't expect answers... i always appreciate readers.
  • why is it that others either can't or won't endure the pain that comes with processing and navigating and resolving conflict, while i seem to be unbreakable when it comes to that aspect of life?
  • why do unpleasant feelings motivate others to give up, while unpleasant feelings motivate me to keep trying? and why do people assume that that's a bad trait?
  • why do people assume that my ability and tendency to persist, my choice to not give up, is motivated by something evil or fallen?
  • why do people, when given the option of seeing good in me or seeing bad in me, usually choose bad?
  • why do people choose to live within their limitations, rather than challenging them?
  • why do i feel alone in my life as i challenge the limitations?
  • why do people hate that i am this way?

Friday, November 19, 2010

sophia

Father, forgive these wretched sons
they know not what they do
they think themselves undone by You
the trodden down, the suff'ring ones
they think that We, the passing priest
have yet to seek and save the least

Father, forgive these wretched sons
their souls, while raised to Thee
are moored by strings they do not see
by how they will and what they've done
their knowledge keeps the truth from them
though finally saved, they act condemned

Father, forgive these wretched ten
their newborn steps are weak
while all have mastered baby-speak
the basics must be learned again
 their knowledge keeps the truth obscured
their speech cuts off the world's First Word

~ ~ ~
this foolishness is not hard-earned
 its teachings, hardly spurned
 yet wisdom gotten easily
is but a parody

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

to my fellow amateur theologian[s]

i know that you don't necessarily intend to dictate terms or set forth a precise multi-volume theological reference. as you notice me pointing out specific words or thoughts or themes within your writing, i hope you'll forgive the sharpness of my fine-tooth comb. it's just that i don't believe we can share our ideas about God with others, without somehow affecting their ideas about God (whether they agree or disagree, they react to us somehow.) and since we are affecting the theologies of others, i think we have a responsibility not to mislead them. "Brothers and sisters, not many of you should become lengthy bloggers..." (or something like that)

furthermore, i don't think we can always know exactly how our readers will read us. if we limit our blogging to anything less than a multi-volume theological reference, we simply won't have the necessary space or time to define all of the significant terms. that's practicality.

unfortunately (i think so, anyway), when we sacrifice super-precision for practicality, we leave things open to interpretation. that's fine, as long as people don't end up interpreting us incorrectly.

"isaiah, who the heck cares oif someone doesn't get exactly what you're saying about God? like anyone ever could anyway, especially with how confusing you can be."

well, reader, i wouldn't care at all... if the person not getting it always knew that they weren't getting it. have you ever communicated something to someone, and only much later (often TOO much later) that they completely misunderstood you, but were unaware that they had done so? and did that produce a pleasant situation?

"this is getting pretty boggy, man. get to the point."

here's my point. if i say, "nothing good can be accomplished without Christ," and all the Christians clap and say 'amen' because i'm a good speaker (which i'm not, except hypothetically), will they then boycott any charitable organization that isn't led by Christians? as if i had advised them to do so?? do i really want to shut down all non-Christian charities??? or here's a more common example: if i write a Facebook note about all the Bible verses that talk about God opposing the proud but giving grace to the humble, will all the impressionable readers (not you; those other readers that i tend not to address directly in order to avoid offending them directly) then think that God has actively set Himself against them every time they fail to be humble? what does that even mean, that God is set against them?! no wonder their printer stopped working this morning, and their boss threatened to fire them, and they found an eviction notice on their front door!

the ideas people have, the ideas i have, about God, are extremely powerful. they can set me on a steady course or throw me into complete chaos. they can point me towards a path of redemption, or towards a path of ruin. God Himself redeems; our ideas about Him determine whether we pursue this redemption.

"isaiah, redemption isn't pursued. it's freely given. the fact that you believe redemption can be pursued is proof that your faith and salvation are both works-based."

when i said 'redemption,' what i meant was the process by which our character is transformed so that we have, gradually, less sinful habits and more righteous habits.

"oh. well i guess i can give your FB note the 'canonical' stamp, then. for now."

ah, grace.

Friday, October 22, 2010

deservedness and design

there are many people in the world who do not deserve kindness. perhaps, if we are very honest and very literal in our exegesis (specifically our soteriology), we will admit that no one deserves anything but judgment,.

on the other hand, if we use this kind of reasoning to justify being mean to those people, we have missed an important point. whether or not a person deserves kindness, -we do not deserve to be mean to them. whether or not someone deserves to be treated fairly, we do not deserve to treat them unfairly. if we did, then "eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth" would still be the law (among Christians).

the actual 'law' can be (has been, is, will always be) summed up like this: be patient, be kind, be not envious, be not boastful, be not arrogant, be not rude; do not insist on your own way; do not be irritable or resentful; do not rejoice in wrongdoing; rejoice in the truth. bear all things, believe all things, hope all thing, endure all things.

this applies to how we treat others, and it applies to how others treat us. i think, to some degree, we can apply this to ourselves as well. -we do not deserve to pass judgment on ourselves.- it is no more our job to punish ourselves than it is our job to punish others. it is not your job to make sure you get what you deserve. it is not your job to make sure you don't get what you don't deserve.

the truth of these statements i'm making, i believe in with perfect certainty (and, very occasionally, perfect clarity). as many of you know, i am not one to wait to be asked, "isaiah, what do you think about this?" often i will even go so far as to answer the question "what do you think about my life and values?" without ever being asked. this has sometimes resulted in indignation or worse.

perhaps there are some opinions i hold about the lives of others which i should not broadcast to them unless asked. perhaps there are some situations where the speaking out of my values (read: the values i believe should be others' as well) is not well-timed.

this is not one of those times, nor is it something i would be willing to keep to myself, even if told to do so. if you would love and be loved as described above, you must be free to do so. and in order to be free to do so, you must believe you are free to do so. at some point, to some degree, you will feel free to do so... if you wish it.

i have this vibrant urge to facilitate this kind of freedom in the lives of people who have chosen to be vulnerable to me (by having genuine friendship with me). this urge is, in large part, what drives me to write and publish this note. i want you to consider the possibility that life is not about deservedness, but rather about design.

"what do you mean by that, isaiah?"

stop thinking about what you deserve. stop thinking about what others deserve. start thinking about what you were designed to do and be. start thinking about what others were designed to do and be. make a commitment to God, to yourself, to your faith, to others... ...to do and be what you were designed to do and be, no matter what you think others deserve, no matter what you think you deserve.

this is the kind of freedom we need. it frees us to confidently make tough moral decisions. it frees us from self-pity, self-loathing, self-devaluation. it frees us to give selflessly. it frees us to consider ourselves valuable without devaluing others. it ends the arguments about whether you should or shouldn't apologize to someone, if the question is based on something they have done. (likewise, it answers any question of whether or not someone should apologize to you based on what you have or haven't done.) it frees us to call out the mistreatment of someone else, or of our own selves, without condemning the people committing the mistreatment.

it frees us to pursue healthy relationships, even with people who don't seem to be willing to pursue that with us in return. if that sounds like something you'd be interested in, don't forget what you read just now.

Friday, July 23, 2010

compliments: lawyer-style

every once in awhile i learn something about myself that inspires me to reflect and record.

i perceive (correct me if i'm wrong) that most people who know me would say, "it's difficult to impress isaiah." well, that's generally true. but i want to clarify something.

impressive things shouldn't be common. they shouldn't be easily acquired. they should be closer to unique than normal. if they were ordinary, why would they be impressive? now, i'll say it in a different way: the things that i choose to impress me, should not be common, or easily acquired. i do believe that, to a large degree, i decide what impresses me, and why.

having said that, i'll now list a few of the things that really impress me (in others):
  • courage
    the description of this trait that comes to mind at this point in my life is, doing something you know is right/good even though you know there will be significant personal consequences. for example:
    • choosing to be emotionally vulnerable
      i don't mean inviting violent people to mistreat you. i mean inviting trusted people to care for you, even though you know they might mess you up, whether accidentally or on purpose.
  • desire for / willingness to pursue personal change
    does anyone know a good one- or two-word term for this? self-reflection both motivated by and leading to a desire for change in oneself is, from my perspective, an intrinsic part of humility.
  • metacognition
    anyone who thinks about the way they think about things, deserves to be enlightened by that process. it's like taking off your glasses to examine whether they need cleaning, how they are different from the glasses (paradigms, schema, filters, worldview) of others... this is difficult to do, and extremely helpful in many areas of life, not just for the person doing it but for the people around that person. it requires  
    • self-awareness, which also impresses me. it's intertwined with the ability to determine one's own true motives, even when those motives may be hidden, or worse: when those motives might be attempting to hinder one's own metacognitive / self-critical processes (i.e. when the things you really want are lying to you about the things you think you want, or about the reasons you're doing what you're doing).
  • selflessness
    when choosing between right (or good) for self and right (or good) for others, the tendency to consider others as being of an importance equal to or greater than one's own. i include 'equal to' because even that can be extremely difficult.
after writing these out, i think to myself, "hey... those are alot of the things i wish i had. those are alot of the things i try or have tried to have." that makes sense, of course... how could i be impressed by them yet not want them for myself?

i hope i have them, or will have them soon. and i hope i don't meet many people who are like this, because i'll really want to befriend them, but mostly for my benefit, which is awkward and a tiny bit shameful... and i usually have trouble being friends with people who impress me too much.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

"A cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a downcast spirit dries up the bones." - παρακλητος



that crackling sound is my brittle bones breaking
cruciform, and shaking
calling out for vinegar
but slaking not my thirst for something better

that crumbling sound is my ferric blood flaking
wounds of my own making
knitting through the restlessness
but healing not my heart: a rotting abcess

the answer i've found in the past isn't working
Treachery is lurking
begging to be accepted
but heeding not my pleas to strike me dead

Thursday, June 03, 2010

attenuation

if my life were a graph, y-axis indicating amount of momentum (either upward or downward) at a moment in time (time represented along the x-axis), and if i were then to assign short descriptive words or phrases to each 3-month period along the graph... and if i were then to list those adjectives in order from 2004 to present day, that list would include the following (these are only selections from that list; while not necessarily consecutive, they are still in chronological order):
  • waiting
  • exploding, ground-breaking
  • building, growing, seeking, fulfillment
  • learning the hard way
  • more learning the hard way
  • correction
  • struggle
  • joy
  • struggle
  • slogging, trudging
  • struggle
  • joy
  • gloaming
  • plodding, struggle, pain, struggle
  • plateau
if my life right now is a landscape, i stand on a low plateau above a barren, sun-seared field-- deep valleys and high mountains behind me, a deep, ancient forest of oaks crouching before me. if my life right now is an orchestra, the high strings frame a dark, simple duet for cello & bassoon, and i direct with lazy, subtle motions from behind the band. if my life right now is weather: a steady drizzle by day and fog by night. if my life right now is a room: an abandoned shed, with dusty rafters splintered, dark corners obscured by cobwebs (still inhabited, though hardly ever trembling with visitors), windows rusted shut, toys and clothes and tools long outgrown or worn out, which should have become antiques or heirlooms-- instead, time slowly but inevitably steals their value, even sentimental value, until they are worth less than the torn cardboard boxes that hold them.

i can feel my mind decaying , my heart slowing and growing feeble from lack of use, while (in unwelcome contrast) my body strengthens and some of the outward-most circumstances of my live improve. my blog reflects all three of these processes, mostly by remaining un-updated.

as a realist i have to admit that the things which matter most to me, will both improve and worsen multiple times (respectively) before my life is over. oddly, or perhaps not so oddly, the pessimist (who inhabits my heart and not my mind) in me says the worst thing that could happen is stasis, rather than decline.

i find myself wondering whether i should add 'stasis' to my very short list of fears. perhaps, for me, failure and stasis are nearly synonymous.

we will see. regardless, it'll be helpful to look back at this post later on in life. i hope i someday reach the place where, upon looking back, i smile and shake my head and say, "wow. could you have been any more needlessly emo?"

if my life right now is a food, i am cotton candy, being stretched and melted and dehydrated, then twisted and pulled, and finally, dissolving ever so slowly in time's hungry mouth. i am attenuating.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

excellent questions... so juicy.

"What do you believe about security of salvation? Can you lose something you never earned? Is God one to give a gift and then take it back on condition? What does it mean to work out our salvation with fear and trembling? If we are faithful our whole lives and then find ourselves decieved in a moment of torture and we "fall away" is that the point of no return? Are we doomed?" -- bonnie-rabbit

about the security of salvation...
Scripture seems to indicate to me that a person can indeed be cut off and cast into the fire if they do not bear fruit. i do not see this as abandonment, or as something separating us from the love of God. i see it as a choice not to be saved, or the absence of the choice to be saved. my general opinion is that salvation (now that Jesus has already done His part) hinges exclusively on our part. that part is choice, and the choice is to be in relationship with Christ. because i believe so fervently in the power and universality of free will, i cannot see how anyone would ever be kept from choosing to no longer acknowledge that relationship/redemption, nor do i see how anyone who rejected one's own redemption could expect to live as one redeemed.

about losing something never earned...
i don't think it's impossible to lose anything that one has, except one's very self, and who knows what exactly will happen even to that (for some), in an afterlifetime of eternal condemnation?

about God giving gifts and then taking them back, for any reason...
i don't see salvation as something that can be possessed without first being received. it makes sense to me that God could give me something, and i could then get rid of it without giving it back to Him.

about working out our salvation with fear and trembling...
i have absolutely no idea what to make of that mysterious verse. to be fair (to myself, and to Scripture, and to the human author), i haven't yet studied it properly.

about being doomed by 'falling away' after an otherwise faithful life...
i have always, always disliked the metaphors of falling, stumbling, et cetera, because they imply that we did so by accident. sin is never an accident. being deceived, while terribly tragic, is nevertheless a choice we make. no one forces us to be deceived; we choose what we believe. on the subject of torture... what i have learned of myself in 23 years makes me confident (deservedly so? perhaps, or perhaps not) that torture and attempts to deceive would only strengthen my beliefs and choices. however: even if that were not the case, i would never expect the "but the serpent said...!" excuse to carry any weight with you-know-Who. ;)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Saturday, February 06, 2010

formspring.me

Do you think that you have changed much in the past 3 years? If so, how?

not nearly as much as i changed in the 3 years preceding these last three.

i think the biggest changes in me 07-10 have been just been enhancements of the changes in me from 04 to 07.

ask me anything

Friday, February 05, 2010

formspring.me

Ofly ek twru hraa uilkwxexg hwu xwy olxyexg qiwqai yw sxwo twru ceuyfjlt?

0) e jw xwy ciaeivi e lz owuyf biaiculyexg.

9) e jekaesi ey ofix qiwqai jw yfexgk drky ciblrki ey'k yuljeyewx.

8) e laawo qiwqai ofw lui hlzeaelu oeyf zt kexhraxikk yw biaiculyi zt ceuyfjlt ciblrki yfit flvi xw eaarkewxk lcwry zt owuyfexikk yw ci biaiculyij. yfwki qiwqai biaiculyi yfi jlt e olk cwux, ivix sxwoexg yfi ivea yfly owraj flvi ciix quivixyij flj e xwy ciix cwux.

ask me anything

Saturday, January 16, 2010

alien sex

there's one more response i'd thought of, to your post... but it didn't fit with the topic. so here it is, in its own special post.

i have had the same problem you described. people have on occasion mistaken my caring for romantic interest. of course this is not our intention; we simply care for people, sometimes intensely, and we feel (or see) a need to express it. in highschool, i hated the game most people played... the game that caused everyone to automatically, constantly, subconsciously be on the lookout for romance. what in the world? how can you live that way, with all the turmoil and silly drama and actual relational danger it causes???

back on track: you and i have the same combination of two particular traits: the ability to care genuinely & deeply for people without any romance involved at all (often for people of the opposite gender? correct me if i'm wrong), and also the ability to express it confidently (i mean, we are confident that what we are saying is true, because we've thought about it carefully). the problem is, most of the world doesn't recognize that for what it actually is. the brutal truth is, people simply aren't accustomed to people 1) genuinely caring for non-selfish, non-romantic reasons, or to people 2) saying exactly what they mean. we happen to do both of those, sometimes simultaneously.

it's easy to see how that could cause problems.

therefore, in order to mitigate against both the occurrence of as well as the severity of those problems, i suggest we come up with a new phrase, one that will very clearly define (i.e. limit) our motives and our intentions, while still expressing the fullness of our emotions. feel free to give a thumbs-up to one or more of these, or to come up with some yourself. at some point, though, we need to settle on one and use it.

okay, ready for these? of course you aren't. here we go anyway:



"i care for you as much as a human could care for an intelligent, sentient, but non-human being. (it might as well be physiologically impossible for me to be romantically interested in you, but still, i would totally give my life to save your planet from annihilation if the opportunity arose.)"

"you are important, even priceless, to me... as is our friendship. i would never want to hurt you. if you ever make a pass at me, i'll punch you in the gonads." (please note that that one works for both genders. 'in the face' didn't seem intense enough, and really, the gonads are the most apropos place to punch someone who makes an unwelcome pass at you.)

"i long to spend time with you, get to know you better, form a closer friendship with you... as long as it gets no 'closer' than, say, two feet or so. (i will occasionally allow a side-hug.)"

"i love you like earth's asexual plant-life loves itself." (this is not to be confused with hermaphroditic life-forms, which contain both male and female gametes. asexual creatures are genderless and therefore do not desire either romance or sex.)




i know what you're thinking: 'isaiah, ALL of these are so good, i simply can't choose between them!' well fear not, brave reader, for i have saved the best for last:

"i love you-- not like a fat kid loves cake, but more like the chef (who makes the cake) loves the fat kid."

R.I.P.

this post is about worshiping through or with music. it is something i probably would have 'penned' no matter what, but as it turns out, it is being written in light of or in response to someone else's blog post. you know who you are.

i have been told (and i do believe) that sometimes, when we do what we know we should even though we don't feel like doing it, we are rewarded with the feeling of wanting to do it after we have done it. i very often feel like doing something other than what i know i should do, but because i have been disciplined by God, my parents, and myself (that's probably in descending order of degree), i very often do it anyway. i find that i very rarely regret it.

this is one of those rare cases where i partially regret it.

i can count on one hand (well, maybe two if you give me enough time) the times i have 'felt like' worshiping God. the number goes up dramatically if you see fit to put supplication and pleas for help into the 'worship' category... but i don't know that i can do that. there have been a few times where i worshiped and pled for help, but i don't consider every "help me God!" to be an act of worship. not even from Christians. anyway, enough of that tangent. what i mean to say is, most of the time i don't feel like worshiping God. the question i've had to wrestle with is, can one worship God if he doesn't feel like it?

and the answer i've found is, certainly! (and thank God.) obedience is more pleasing to Him than sacrifice. if i love Him, i will obey His commandments (even when, or especially when, i don't feel like it). the problem, though, is that music is different than obedience. does God love an offering given grudgingly just as much as He loves a cheerful offering?

i do not believe it is morally wrong for a Christian not to sing worship songs. if i did, i'd be condemning every mute Christian in the world. (there's your comic relief in this otherwise dour post; it's all you get, so enjoy it. lol!) but seriously. if a Christian finds that he can very cheerfully obey God but resents feeling obligated to sing on Sunday mornings (or whenever), should that Christian sing anyway?

i have never resented feeling obligated to sing. in fact, i have very rarely felt obligated at all. but that's because i enjoy singing, not worshiping through singing. it wasn't difficult for those other guys to give big handfuls of coin, because they had lots more there that came from. the widow's offering got some spotlight from Jesus because it was a big sacrifice for her. it really isn't impressive at all if someone who is head-over-heels in love with music decides to invest alot of his time and energy in a worship team, as one of its members. it's easy; it's almost selfish!

i keep getting off track. here's the bottom line: emotionally speaking, volitionally speaking, viscerally speaking, i have never been as 'in love with' worshiping God through music as i have been in love with music itself. not even close. people can tell i am enjoying something when i'm up there, but no one really knows what it is unless i tell them. they could easily mistake love for music with love for God. well, now i'm telling you, so there's no more mistaking it: i love singing. i don't love singing to God.

not that i dislike it; i simply don't have much feeling for it at all.

i was recently informed (and i partly agreed) that i am not a very good Christian, at least by fruit-of-the-Spirit standards. i may obey God in many things, but i'm sort of like a Pharisee: i don't necessarily exhibit gentleness, peace, patience, kindness, et cetera, in the midst of my obedience to God. that's actually somewhat of a paradox, isn't it? are we commanded, per se, to bear fruit? whatever; the answer to that question isn't relevant to this post. bottom line again: if it is possible to become a 'better' Christian (in terms of Spiritfruitfulness), then i am a bad one. i wouldn't call myself the fig tree that Jesus cursed, but i'm no land-of-Canaan-grapevine either.

the other piece of information that's come my way recently is this: a Christian as unfruitful as myself should not be ministering in any way. and the corollary: a Christian bearing particularly bad fruit is just as unqualified. or perhaps even 'disqualified' would not be too strong a word.

i have considered this information and concluded that i disagree with it as a unilateral statement. i believe there are certain qualities (or lacks thereof) which do disqualify a Christian from certain ministries (as the one doing the ministering, not the one being ministered to).

unfortunately, the part i agree with applies directly to my involvement with worship music ministry. i was taught, as a child, to say 'thank you' even when i didn't feel like it, so that later on, i would understand and feel like it and actually do it. i find that i cannot be 'trained' to feel worshipful toward God in the same way that i was trained to feel grateful toward people. in fact, i find that most of the time, i feel like singing much more than i feel like worshiping by singing. the fact that those two activities coincide for someone who's serving on a worship team is just that: a coincidence.

furthermore, if a person singing "Shout to the Lord" is simply enjoying the music rather than singing to God, isn't that person some kind of hypocrite? maybe he needs to just hum, or 'oo' and 'aa' the notes without the words. yes? no?

i am not completely resolved about that yet. for now, though, i must be brutally honest with myself about it, and that means no singing worship songs, especially when other people are around to mistake my singing for worship, or to hear me hypocrisying. (that's pronounced sort of like 'prophesying'.)

what i am resolved about is this: as long as i remain a generally unfruitful Christian who doesn't enjoy singing to God, i should keep myself out of worship ministry, and try to avoid singing worship songs. unfortunately for those of you who like to look on the bright side, or at least look forward to an eventual brighter side, i'm a very critical realist (though some would call me a pessimist). part of me (a majority) suspects that this is a permanent decision.

i don't think i'm gonna go to L.A. anymore

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

comment response

I pretty much agree enthusiasticly with everything in this post with the exception of one tiny blurp. I do make a cup of tea "for Jesus" and i do ask Him what whether what i wear is pleasing to Him each day. "Whatever you do, whether eating or drinking, do all to the glory of God." I used to be obsessed with pleasing Jesus. I truly thought that if I disobeyed Him, even unintentionally, He would open a floodgate of consequences to make me miserable until I did His will. I don't believe it like that anymore. When I ask Him what I should wear I'm not being legalsitic about it or even over spirtualizing. I am enjoying the benefits of my relationshp with Him that gives me the freedom to ask the One who knows me better than I know myself what will make me feel most comfortable and confident as I present myself to the world. It feels like something I may say to my husband, "How does this look, honey? Does this make you proud to be seen with me?" If Jesus isn't proud of the image I give off, than I'm not going to feel comfortable either. As for the cup of tea...my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. What I consume may be for my body and not directly for Jesus, but if what I consume affects my chemistry in a way that affects my mood and therefore my behaviour, then I may be in danger of being disobedient because of what I consumed. If tea has a healthy affect on my body than I am drinking (herbal)tea to glorify Jesus in a round about way. You said yourself that we cannot separate our body, soul and spirit. One affects the others. I have a feeling I may have misinterpreted your meaning and we are actually agreeing, not disagreeing.

- Bonnie Rabbit

your comment is an excellent one, because i should clarify what i meant by that.

some people ask Jesus which socks to wear because they think that if Jesus doesn't verify something real-time, it must be bad or wrong. i am of the opinion that Jesus DOES care whether i dress modestly or not, and DOES care about how my clothing may affect my relationships (with friends, enemies, strangers)...

...however, i also believe there are some things i've finished learning. i've heard it said by many people whom i admire and respect a great deal: "no one ever 'arrives,' at least until the Afterlife being prepared for us." in a general sense, i agree; but really, if i woke up tomorrow and didn't know which socks to wear, to the point where i needed to pray about it first before being able to make a good decision, i would seek counseling, because weren't we supposed to learn that in childhood/adolescence??? i would at LEAST blame my parents.

just because Jesus knows me better than i do, doesn't mean i don't know me well enough to make the right decision. no offense to anyone who couldn't say this about themselves, but i really think i know what to wear and what not to wear. if Jesus wants to give me some pointers, i am totally ready to hear what He has to say... but at some point, learning has to become confidence.

when i ask my wife (or anyone) what they think about something i'm wearing (my grizzled little chin-beard, for example), i'm asking because i want to know whether people like it or not, so that i can make a well-rounded decision about whether to keep it or not. but honestly, there are some clothing options i've chosen that didn't require my asking advice of anyone. i'm thankful for a family that taught me not to expose my midriff. Jesus approves of what they taught, but again, i doubt they prayed about it before teaching it to me.

and even more honestly: if everyone says they prefer me without the beard, i may wear it anyway, even if it offends someone! it isn't always true that anything that offends anyone is bad or wrong. thank God, right? Christians would be universally abhorred and outlawed, without exception!

another example: wearing all black. i wear it already knowing that i will feel comfortable and confident in it, therefore i don't pray about it beforehand. and Lipton iced tea? if it had a bad effect on my body, i might stop drinking it, but i don't drink it because Jesus wants me to take care of my body. i drink it because a) i like it, and 2) i want to take care of my body. the fact that Jesus wants me to take care of my body is pure coincidence, until i make a decision of which He does not approve. at that point i need to make different choices, and then i am agreeing with Him after the fact.

but it just so happens that alot of the 'smaller' decisions (interpret that how you will) are really just that: smaller. easier.

"hey Jesus, should i say 'thank you' to my grandma for that Christmas gift i really liked?"

"um, yes! didn't your mom already teach you to do that kind of stuff??"

"i guess so."

"then why are you asking Me? i'm enjoying the conversation, and you're welcome to ask Me anything you wish, and i love it when you show Me that you want Me to approve of your decisions... but, really? do we need to go over everything you ever learned from every person in your whole life to make sure I approve of all those things?"

"well... maybe? i don't know."

"yes you do. we had this same exact conversation yesterday... and the day before that."

"oh. right. i just thought i should double-double-check with you... again..."

"tell you what. I realize the Bible doesn't say whether 'No Nonsense' socks are Jesus-approved, but what if I just let you know if you do something that's not quite right, plus you can rely on your Christian community and Christian family and so on to do the same, and you just keep on making good decisions about modesty and what-not? I trust you to make good decisions about which clothes to wear. k?"

"okay, sounds good."

"k, ttyl."

"ttYl."

i think that sometimes, some things can be done to the glory of God, without setting aside a conscious thought to purposefully do those things for His glory. in other words, i can be in the habit of doing things that are glorifying to Him, without praying beforehand, without intentionally dedicating those things to Him beforehand... you get my meaning.

i suppose i could make a cup of tea 'for Him,' but i sort of wonder how it would benefit Him, versus just making a cup of tea. i can easily imagine several scenarios where it would definitely be to His glory, but all of those scenarios involve things like... serving tea to people who need it... making tea right after the devil told me not to... brewin' up a cup to make my apartment smell nice and to give it a little ambiance so that the people coming over to worship are able to worship a little more easily... stuff like that.

the brewing itself, by itself, i guess could be a testament to His creativity and wisdom and aesthetic talent and what-not, but i have to ask myself: am i really emotionally capable of appreciating that, from the heart, every time i brew up a cup??? the answer, for me personally, immediately comes back: "nope!" some would say i'm callous to the beauty of the world that He designed... and my reply to that comment should probably be saved for another post. ;)