Rethinking Joy

A dark night of the soul is this, sans light bulb.

It’s been a while since I’ve mentioned my dark night of the soul. The news is, I’m still in it. And where I am is black. Pitch black. Moonless, starless, candle-less nothingness. I’ve never experienced a crisis of faith quite this deep, long or disconcerting. I’m not sure where the end of this thing is.

The other day, I asked myself what it would look like if I really loved myself. All of myself. The way God loves me. And in that moment, 90% of my theology fell apart. I realized that while I had experienced some of the best things in my church upbringing, I had also experienced some of the worst. There’s very little room for self-love or self-acceptance (let alone acceptance of others) in the doctrine of my denomination. I was always taught the JOY acronym: Jesus first, others second, yourself last. Except, like much of everything in evangelicalism, it’s arranged in a hierarchy. JOY is spelled vertically. Jesus is at the top, others are below that, and you are the bottom of the totem pole. It’s the trickle-down economics of love. You give most of your devotion to Jesus, then some to others, and hopefully have enough for yourself afterwards. Continue reading

Choose Grace

Just at the moment when I think I can’t possibly sink to a new level of brokenness, I find it. Remember when I said that my dark night of the soul was leading me to a new intimacy with Christ? I’m not so sure anymore. I’ve either gone completely spiritually deaf, or he’s just not speaking to me. Not even “Just heal.”

I saw my counselor the other day and told him that I might be too broken to heal at this point. He assured me that I had a long way to fall before reaching that particular abyss.

Oh, goody.

I’m going to be honest. Most days, I don’t want to read my Bible. Church is boring me to tears. I get more peace from listening to Coldplay’s “The Scientist” than the latest worship song. And if one more person tells me to “forget the past” or “choose joy” or “listen to this awesome sermon I heard,” I might just strangle them with my cross necklace.

Maybe that’s a bit extreme. But what to do? Nothing seems able to break through this darkness, and my spirit screams in frustration.

I have no other option. I must choose grace. Continue reading

Speaking the Truth in Love

You heard Him, folks.

I’ve been seeing a lot of blog posts in the past month addressing the topic of whether Christians should be “nice.” After all, there is no command in the Bible to be nice to anyone. And Jesus certainly wasn’t nice when he called the Pharisees hypocrites or flipped the tables in the temple. Sometimes, the truth can come out sounding just plain mean.

But apparently nowadays, we’re being plagued by a host of “nice” Christians. They’re “soft on sin.” They don’t want to “offend anybody.” As a result, people aren’t hearing the gospel and are destroying our clean, civilized society with all their¬†depraved behaviors. (Those deluded hell-bound sinners!)

Of course, we shouldn’t just run out into the street and start screaming at people. We have to be careful to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). Many people have spread much ink with those words. However, they never actually explain what it means to speak the truth in love. What should that look like? Sound like? Maybe I can shed some light on the matter. Continue reading

When you’re right where He wants you

Image from letthepreistsarise.com

When I was about 19 years old, God gave me a vision for a speaking and teaching ministry. I won’t go into the details of the vision here, but suffice to say it’s significant enough to get me choked up whenever I do share it. I knew at the time that said ministry would be a ways down the road for me, so I wasn’t anxious about it. I had a lot of growing still to do, and I was willing to wait for God’s timing.

In the past decade or so, God has given me small opportunities to share sermons and devotionals with groups of people. These special moments have stirred my soul and made me hungry for the bigger vision on the horizon. Still, it has felt like a distant thing…something much further than arm’s length away…

Until recently. Continue reading

Into the Deep Waters

Image from Woman of Color

I want to start by saying something that I would like every one to notice carefully. It is this. If this chapter means nothing to you, if it seems to be trying to answer questions you never asked, drop it at once. […] There are certain things in Christianity that can be understood from the outside, before you have become a Christian. But there are a great many things that cannot be understood until after you have gone a certain distance along the Christian road. […] They are directions for dealing with particular crossroads and obstacles on the journey and they do not make sense until a man has reached those places. […] There will come a day, perhaps years later, when you suddenly see what it meant.¬† –C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Today, I want to talk about a box and a boat and a journey toward the greatest romance of our lives. I want to talk about beaches and oceans and a place known as the deep waters. Continue reading