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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. ;)