Monday, June 22, 2015

If Only I Could Touch His Cloak

Imagine yourself, with all your ailments (should you have any), reaching out a desperate hand - in faith - and touching a cloak. Suddenly, your ailments are healed. You're good as new. Everything is well. There is no more depression, anxiety, or other mental illness. There is no more cancer, diabetes, or other physical illness.

In the 5th chapter of Mark, we see this happen to a woman who's been suffering for years. With an incredibly strong faith in Jesus and his healing ability, she reaches out, knowing one touch will cure her. And he does.

This story, like many others within the pages of the Bible, is often used to convey the message that if you have enough faith, God will heal you. The other side to this lesson - if you're not healed, you obviously do not have enough faith. This is what I was taught growing up. Or, part of it anyway. There were two lessons actually encompassing why one is not healed:
1) If you're not healed, you do not have enough faith (and/or you're not praying hard enough); or
2) If you're not healed, you have not repented for your sin (and/or you're continuing in sin).

There is such a devastating, destructive danger to this false teaching. If you have faith... if you fall to your knees consistently in fervent prayer... if you try to live a life obedient to God... and repent regularly... but the illness continues... obviously you're not doing enough, or not doing it well enough, or just don't have enough faith. You walk away in shame and sorrow, feeling unworthy.

But, no where in the Bible does God say that if we have enough faith, he will always heal us... at least, not in this life. Our healing will come - but not necessarily during our time in the here and now.

No where in the Bible does it say that God's power of healing is limited to our faith. Nor can we manipulate God into healing through our faith.

If you're suffering, and you've prayed and prayed and begged God, and wished you could just reach out and touch the cloak of Jesus in faith - and still you suffer, do not despair. Do not allow yourself to feel you lack faith or are too great a sinner. God heals and does not heal as He sees fit, holding to the promise that one day we will all be healed.

Instead, turn to God and pray for comfort and peace, secure in the knowledge that one day true healing will be done - not because of the amount of faith you have, but because of the amount of love He has.

God bless

Friday, June 19, 2015

Anesthetic Innocence

I wasn't going to post on this topic of racism and the recent Church shooting. Why? Because I like to sometimes pretend that such hatred and violence exists. I like to pretend that no one could have the ability to walk into a church (or school, or mall, or any place else) and open fire. I like to pretend that racism is not alive and thriving in our society today. I like having a false comfort, an "anesthetic innocence" (as one article puts it quite nicely: http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/news/a35793/charleston-shooting-discussion/).

But, I'm' allowed to pretend in this way. I'm white. I live in a white community, surrounded by white friends, a white school, white churches. We aren't racist - we just don't have "those people" here. 

....

And, I am part of the problem. I don't like to talk about racism because I don't like to believe it exists. I know it does. It's everywhere. Turn on the news. Open Facebook on your computer. Listen to your children. Open a newspaper. Hell, just open your eyes. It is everywhere. It does exist. Even in those small, all white communities. Maybe especially there. I don't know.

The article I linked above makes two very good points about this tragic massacre that happened last Wednesday. This act was not unthinkable. And it cannot be unspeakable.

Un-Unspeakable

We have a habit of preferring to live in our own little bubbles. This doesn't apply to just white people. It's all of us. We have our family, job, and friends. Outside that? We don't want to see what's going on. We don't want to acknowledge it. If it doesn't directly affect us, we don't care. If it doesn't affect someone we love, we have no concern for it. And we definitely don't want to talk about it.

If we see someone who is slipping - someone on drugs, or drinking too much; someone who is depressed; someone who has pulled themselves away from others... oh sure, we may talk behind their back to those in our bubble, but do we do anything to help the person? No. Do we bother to offer a hand or ear? No. Do we bother to talk about it? No.

If we hear someone talking about hating blacks, or any other group of people, do we bother to step up and do something? No. Say something? No. If we hear that someone we know is getting involved in a hate group, or any other group which is not healthy for them, do we take any action? No. Do we speak out? No.

When we see someone bullying someone for any reason, do we step in? No. Do we pull the bully aside and talk to them? No. Do we offer help, love, and care for either the bully or the bullied? No. Do we talk about these issues? No.

And then we have the audacity to feign surprise when someone walks into a school, or walks into a church, or goes anywhere, and opens fire on a group of helpless, innocent, people.

We NEED to talk about it. We need to pay attention to what is happening around us - in our communities, our churches, our state, country, world. We need to open our eyes.  And we need to talk about it. Why? Because it does affect each and every one of us. Because it is our responsibility. Because, as Christians, we are to show love to all people. Pretending it isn't happening is not showing love for others - it's selfish. It's staying locked inside our pretty little bubbles, refusing to show true care and concern for others.

Let's not let this act, or those like it, be unspeakable.



Thursday, June 18, 2015

Back by (semi) Popular Demand

First, I'd like to announce that this is my 400th post on this blog! (please, hold your applause.)

Second, I'd like to announce the obvious - Sermons from a Psycho is back (with all posts)!

Ever since I removed all the posts on this site, I have received several questions asking where it went, and why. And, I feel I owe it to my few readers to explain...

This past weekend, the feeling that is often there hiding decided to shoot to the surface with a force I was not prepared for. This feeling? I'm not worthy. I am a simple, stupid, sinner. What right do I have to be preaching, teaching, or writing about the Gospel? I screw up on a regular basis in my life. I hurt others. I don't care for people the way I often, in these posts, tell people we should. I can't even follow the words I let spill onto these posts. So yes, I felt unworthy to even have this stuff posted. To be honest, I still feel this way.

This past weekend, I felt like a complete failure. I'd failed the friend who challenged me to start this blog and transform myself. I'd failed dear friends. I'd failed family. I'd failed God. And in this failure, I felt it would be better if I simply became who I used to be before this blog started. I wanted to go back to my Darkside of the Rose blog, and live there. (Un)Fortunately, I realized in the past few days that I cannot go back. Despite still feeling like a failure, the transformation which started with this blog isn't so easy to reverse.

My original plan was to completely delete the blog. Wipe it from existence, as if doing so would somehow wipe that transformation out. But, as my mouse hovered over that "delete" button, I realized I could not do it. As much as I wanted to wipe it away, I also did not want to. This blog has become a diary of my journey. There are many memories held within these posts - some good, some bad, some which still make me smile, some still make me cry. I couldn't click that button.

Instead, I exported all the posts so that if/when I was ready, I could bring them back. Or, at the very least, could still have them if/when I ever wanted to look back on this journey. And, I'd actually planned that, should I bring it back, it would come back different. There would be a different, more professional, format. The crappy babbling posts which teach nothing would be deleted. The decent ones would be properly tagged and categorized. Maybe I'd even change the name of it to something more "Christian."

But today, as it hit me that I do need to bring it back, it also hit me that I couldn't change it. This is my baby, as precious to me as my poetry (which is how my journey in my teens and twenties, and to a lesser degree the rest of my adult life, was told). More precious to me than any non-living thing in my life. You know that question that people sometimes ask - "If your house was on fire, and you only had time to grab one (non-living) thing, what would it be?" - my answer is and always has been my writings. Just because one post is stupid, or just me throwing a hissy fit, or doesn't really fit nicely with the rest of the posts, does not mean you just throw it out. Life doesn't work that way, and these posts are my life.

As for the title and design - I'm not a professional person. I'm not educated in theology. I'm definitely not "normal." I am a simple, psycho sinner. The name fits. It doesn't matter if, because its an unprofessional name, I don't get a lot of people reading my work. It doesn't matter if, because it's a less formal format, I don't get a lot of hits. I'm not in this for popularity. I'm in this for God, and for myself, and for a little sanity. If I touch others with my words - well, that's just a privilege.

My only regret is that in deleting the posts, then importing them back in, I lost all the comments. And, there were some good ones. But, I guess that is just one minor consequence to a stupid, hasty, thoughtless decision.

And with that rather lengthy explanation, I shall close this - my 400th "sermon" from a psycho. Thank you to all who noticed and cared that the posts were gone. And thank you to those who encouraged me to bring it back (I think you all are more psycho than I am).

God bless!

PS - you may now applaud...

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Size Doesn't Matter

I've heard many people say "I'm too young" or "I don't know enough" when it comes to teaching people about God. I've heard many say "I don't have the resources." Or "I'm not a pastor."

The thing is, however, teaching about God doesn't require you being within a certain age range, education range, or income range. Nor does it require a special title attached to your name, or collar around your neck. Now... before people hang me for heresy, please understand that in no way am I negating the importance of Church, or of having educated ministers teaching us. I am simply attempting to point out that each one of us can also teach about Christ.

The most important lesson within the Bible is that God loves us; and, the greatest commandment we're given by Jesus, is that we love one another as He has loved us. Most children even know this - or, at least know some form of this (i.e. "treat others as you would want to be treated"... which yes, isn't quite the same, but hopefully you understand what I'm getting at).

Teachers of God's Love


Recently, I saw two different stories on Facebook which made me look back on my own life, and the people who made big impacts on showing me God's love. Most of these people were either young, or poor, or lacked a professional biblical education (or had no education when it came to Christianity/the Bible). And yet those in my personal life were instrumental in helping me grow spiritually; just as those in the stories I've read/watched were instrumental in helping teach others about love.

Take, for instance, the 9 year old who planted a garden to help those without food, and built a shelter for a homeless man. Or what about a group of 5th grade boys who recognized injustice and bullying happening to a fellow classmate, and befriended him? These young children didn't hesitate to reach out to those they saw in need. They reached out in love, changing the lives of two people, and probably also changing the lives of their families and communities who witnessed these selfless acts.

For me, there was a young boy (my brother) who always showed that love - to me, and to others. He always reached out in love. He always tried to help when he could, however you could. Even though he was six years younger than me, I learned more from him about love than I did from my own parents, educators, ministers, etc.

There was also a family I grew close to when I was a teenager - a woman, three of her children, and her granddaughter, living in a small trailer. They did not have a lot of money/resources, but always had their door open for "strays". These "strays" were young adults who had no home, teenagers estranged from their family, people who just needed a roof over their head. This family not only provided the roof and other basic necessities, they provided love. They provided friendship. They sat up all hours of the night being a shoulder to cry on and a listening ear - providing love, hope, comfort, peace - things money can not buy.

Even today, I'm close to a few people who have little monetarily - but have huge hearts. They're always willing to lend a hand, or a shoulder, no matter what it is or when it is. They've reminded me that it isn't about what you own, or how you dress, or how many children you have, or what your 'status' in the community is - we're all loved and accepted by God. And they taught this simply by being that example - by being loving and accepting.

Requirements for Teaching God's Love


So the next time you feel you're not equipped to teach about God - take a moment to think about those in your life who taught you the invaluable lesson of God's love. Were all these people old? Rich? Well educated? Pastors? Some, perhaps, but I'm going to guess that not all of them were. God uses everyone - big and small, old and young, rich and poor, educated and uneducated - to teach His love... we just need to be willing to reach out with that love towards others.

That is the only requirement for teaching - a willingness to love.

God bless.