Dear Christians, Your Facebook is Killing the Church

Dear Christians, Your Facebook is Killing the Church

We are fortunate in these times to have such easy access to public platforms. What was once only obtainable by the wealthy and famous is now available to the masses with little to no effort. Social media platforms such as Facebook have now encouraged every individual to broadcast their right to free speech at the touch of a button.

This is a fantastic capability and a phenomenal opportunity. Freedom of speech is such a glorious right, and we are fortunate to live in a society that protects such a practice. However, the right to free speech is often confused. Those who have rushed into the privilege of maintaining a public voice have forgotten that a right to action does not imply the wisdom or validity of that action.

A valid and wise opinion can instantly become an unwise utterance when delivered inappropriately.

While every person in this country has the right to their beliefs and the right to express those beliefs, this right does not give you the moral liberty to express those opinions with no regard to who you might be hurting.

Stop and think about that for a second. Think about all the times you’ve read hurtful, negative material on Facebook and have walked away feeling drained, discouraged, disheartened, or even outrageously offended. The power of words is immense, and it is not a power you should use lightly.

We’ve all been told: “think before you speak”. I believe we should not only think before we write, but read. Read, read, and re-read your material before you publish it to the world. Don’t merely skim through, but drink in your words as if you were a guest drinking from a cup you offered them. What you publish to the internet is not easily taken back.

We’ve become a people who are so obsessed with broadcasting our opinions to the masses that we forget to minister to the one.

Imagine you did come face to face with the kind of person you spoke out against on social media. Imagine they came to you for help or for friendship. Would you choose conjure up a status from your social media site and complain to them about how their life is ruining yours?

Or would you rather have a different sort of conversation? Would you rather have the chance to share with them heart-to-heart and soul-to-soul about your belief in the One who changed your life? Would you love them?

If you found yourself face to face with that person, would you want them to know what you had said about them to the world?

I promise you right now that you will have private encounters with the demographics you condemn publicly. And when you have one of those interactions, you better pray that they haven’t seen your negative opinion plastered all over the internet. Because if they have, they won’t be listening to a word you say.

If we want the church to be taken seriously, we better start taking our beliefs seriously.

Sure, posting that status about how you feel as though your opinions are being ignored might make you feel like you’re taking a stand. It might even make you feel righteous. And don’t we all just love feeling righteous? But what is it actually doing?

It’s preaching at people.

When was the last time you listened to someone preaching at you? I will be willing to bet – never. I know I don’t. If someone approaches me with the sole intent of telling me what’s wrong with my life and offers no compassion, love, or even a possible solution, I couldn’t care less what they have to say. And I know for a fact that I am called to treat others the way I would want to be treated. 

It’s belittling to your own beliefs.

That’s right. Your opinion on the subject just might be right. It might even be wise. But when you post your opinion on the matter in a state of emotion, stopping only to click “Post”, your opinion quickly goes from being valuable to laughable.

You wouldn’t prepare to deliver a speech on national television regarding our country’s morality by hurriedly typing out a paragraph or two and running up to share with the world what you’ve just written. NO, you would write and rewrite and pray and seek the wisdom of others before addressing such a weighty and important subject. So why does the church feel it’s acceptable to do the same thing over Facebook?

It’s isolating people from the church.

Who is it that you want to see at church the most? If you ask me I want to see someone walk into a church who is broken and unloved and leave whole, happy, and beloved. Isn’t that the reason for everything the church does in the first place? It should be.

Posting absolutes about morality and casting judgement on heated moral situations does nothing but isolate those who you call out. By passing judgement on the lifestyle of thousands of people, you communicate to them that they don’t belong around you or your church. You lock the doors of the sanctuary to them with your words. You deny them an invitation to explore your faith and turn their hearts against anything your brothers and sisters in Christ have to say.

Jesus called his followers to him and promised them rest. He taught them what to do instead of what not to do. He encouraged them to do right instead of always reminding them not to do wrong. He built relationships with them, walked with them through life, and shared everything with them. Jesus met with countless adulterers, prostitutes, people under demonic oppression, tax collectors, politicians, murderers, and sinners. Did he broadcast their sins? No. Did he tell them that they were doing wrong and that they were ruining their country? No. He loved them.

And when he told them “go and sin no more”, it was a call to freedom rather than to bondage. It was an assurance that they were no longer bound to shame, guilt, or pain. It was a promise that they could go and never look back on those things again.

Condemnation never saved a single soul. Only mercy, grace, and the love of Christ did that.

It’s time that we as a church rethink the idea of debating over Facebook. Can you carry on a discussion over social media with the upmost respect for your audience? Or are you more concerned with being right, righteous or smarter than they are?

Consider that our anger and indignation on social media is not at all rooted in those around us, but rather is a poisonous wellspring bleeding from our own hearts.

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Call me Caitlyn

Call me Caitlyn

There’s something that bothers me about Caitlyn Jenner, but it probably isn’t what you think. 

As I look through the beautifully photographed Vanity Fair spread headlining “Call Me Caitlyn” and read all of the positive comments regarding the newly created Jenner, there is something  on which I simply cannot avoid dwelling.

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I understand that Jenner is quite outspoken about how Bruce’s identity was a lie and a facade. I can empathize with that desperate need for honesty, individuality, and freedom. It’s a desire deeply woven into all of us.

It is this search for identity and freedom that drove Jenner to become Caitlyn. It’s that same desire to find who we truly are that draws us to Jenner’s story. It’s this consumerist mindset about it all that concerns me.

640-caitlyn-jenner-2I can’t help but look at the “before” and “after” photos of the Jenner transformation and see dollar signs. I can’t help but to not only put myself in Jenner’s shoes, but also to consider every single person looking to Jenner for inspiration. I can’t help but imagine that I am in a similar situation, and the thought kills me. I can’t help but to imagine searching for an identity and finding that the only way to truly become my true self is to fork over thousands of dollars and to buy my identity.

And then I realize….none of us have to imagine that at all.

Our society teaches us that our worth can easily be measured  by what we can show those around us. We are told that our identity depends on what we smear on our faces or drape over our adequate or inadequate bodies. We are assured that identity is based almost entirely on who we appear to be.

My problem with Caitlyn is that she promises that we can be who we truly are as long as we are willing to buy it from someone. And that is a discouraging thought.

“Modesty” – It’s Not What you Think

“Modesty” – It’s Not What you Think

Taking Responsibility for Our Hearts

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There’s a saying I was taught while learning to ride my bike. I was told that if there is an obstacle in my path, that I should not focus on it. If my focus becomes placed onto the obstacle, I will run into it. But if my focus remains on where I want to go, I will safely bypass whatever is in my path.

The same can be said about the subject of “modesty”. Too often we teach our young women to focus on what men will think of us if we dress a certain way. We are taught to dress our bodies in a way that revolves around how men will react to us. And above all we must be mindful if our clothing will “cause men to lust” after us. But doesn’t this seem like a huge burden to place on a girl’s clothing?
 We need a new definition of modesty.
Now, if you are one of those women who does like to choose clothing that is deliberately revealing for the purpose of attracting the attention of men, hear me out:
You are not harming anyone but yourselves.

I am not interested in who does or does not look at you. I am not interested in whatever lustful thoughts a man has for you. That’s his problem.

But just because a man should take responsibility for his thoughts and actions doesn’t mean there is no other harm that could come from you dressing immodestly. Unfortunately, it’s a double-edged sword, and the real problem here is the harm that you are doing to your heart.

If you dress to show as much of your body on purpose because you like the attention, chances are you’re wearing your insecurities on your sleeve. It isn’t healthy to place so little value on your body that you use it merely as a tool for attention. Remember that you want to attract a man to your heart, your mind, your soul, and not just draw his lust towards your body. Don’t settle for a man who will only pursue your physical flesh. You are much more than the sum of your parts!

Either extreme is unhealthy. There is a balance that needs to be found:
Do not be so concerned with your body that you hide as much of it as possible.
(Also)
Do not be so concerned with your body that you show as much of it as possible.
Both reactions come from the same root: being too concerned with your body’s effect on men. Either way, your decisions in clothing will ultimately spring from what is in your heart.
If you truly value yourself, then your clothing choices will follow. Placing value in yourself as a human being rather than in your curves will ultimately take your focus off of dressing to please men. I promise it’s a freeing feeling.
What is comfortable? What isn’t? What is fashionable? What communicates to the world your personality at a glance?
These are the questions we should be asking when it comes to modesty, because in the end, what matters is the girl in the clothes. Not the people looking at her.

The Follower

The Follower

Death is always near. 

He follows closely like a friend.
He whispers in our ear –
Loud enough to ignore,
Soft enough to remember.
He hides his attributes,
Yet reveals his absence.
He promises nothing,
Gives nothing,
Takes everything.
He’s numbered our days
And hidden the sum
Between the leaves
Of our life-pages.
Regardless of what we do or say.
He lulls us into sleep
And courts us in our dreams.
He wins our hearts in slumber
Until sleep becomes our lover;
Though sleep is just short death.
Our fragile beating heart could stop
By the choice of any other.
Our breath depends upon another’s
Assessment of our worth:
To kill, to care, to leave be, to cut short…
I came across an infant possum
abandoned in the grass.
Eyes half-closed with thirst,
Lethargic from lack of food,
Lying where he fell.
In an instant, his entire world became
That small patch where he lay.
He barely stood and barred his teeth
At any living thing too close,
But couldn’t move away.
His breathing slowed and his body curled.
His tail wrapped around the air,
Never to be used at all –
Save for the little comfort found
In trying it’s intended form.
He lay there unaware
That no one would return.
That his world would not again expand,
That his hunger would only grow
And consume what time he had.
What does it matter
If we rage or we go gentle?
We go nonetheless.
Death is patient with his time
and time will wait for no one.
Death delights in suffering,
in slow waves of hope and fear;
for time is his ally,
Cruelty and Loneliness, his brothers,
Apathy, his mother.
My constant follower,
My distant, ever-present threat;
Oh that I could love the day
I finally shake Death’s hand.
Oh that I would smile in his face.
Oh that I would see
that his release is not the end.
Oh that I would know
that exile by his command
is freedom from his hand.

Story Time: A Collaborative, Blind Effort to Compose a Story at a Party.

Story Time: A Collaborative, Blind Effort to Compose a Story at a Party.

This story was composed at a friend’s housewarming party. Each font change represents a new author. None of the writers could see the sentence before the one he composed.

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When we came to the house we hated the color.

But we liked the starlight shining through

the window. Every night we would sit at

the kitchen table and tell stories of our yesteryears

roaming the tundra + hunting small Alaskan

foxes for sport. 

But those days were long since past, and now

the only thing we could do was hold our

loved ones near.

To start a new dream and see a new

orphanage in the Sahara is all I want. 

But first I needed to raise the money to

buy my favorite book.

After I made the purchase I hit a little girl.

Turned out to be a terrorist! 

So I pulled out my gun and shot 

everyone there. 

If We Breathe, We Create

If We Breathe, We Create

They say I’m foreign to “creatives”,

as though I do not understand.

I am called “other” than “creatives” because I schedule life; I plan.

I work with creatives.

I  help them organize.

I’m praised for “dealing” with creatives.

As if my patience is their prize.

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Little do they know…

The “chasm” set between us isn’t all that great.

The sign of a creative is that they create.

Their mark on this world is that they ignore the gates

that hold all others to an equal, binding, common fate

of a life just half lived, waiting for its death-date;

Empty of all beauty and longing for a taste

of something greater than this life;

to find some meaning in the waste;

to find some hope amidst their strife.

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I am not “other” than creative;

I own the term;

I write.

My art is channeled through how I live;

My pen is firm,

Not trite.

When He Disturbed Me and I Believed it was My Fault

When He Disturbed Me and I Believed it was My Fault

Women are not born with powers of lustful bewitchment that follow us through life untamed. We do not unconsciously control the thoughts or actions of men by enchantment. We are not sirens who sing men to their deaths by merely dressing, acting, speaking a certain way. We are human beings.

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I was setting out the most current installments of the local newspapers, just like any morning, when a man approached me. I was already accustomed to waiting on patrons with mental inconsistencies, and I misinterpreted his strange behavior as one such personality. Little did I know that this man was in full charge of his mental capacities.

As I walked from rack to rack, the man accompanied me. I realized it was increasingly difficult to maintain distance from him, as he kept moving closer and closer. Finally, I felt his hand brush against my backside and I quickly finished what I was doing so that I could return to my desk.

I wrote the touch off as an accident. My insecurity won over my sense of worth and I gave him the benefit of the doubt where there should have been no doubt in his actions. He left soon after, and I was relieved that I didn’t see him again for a while.

My entire life had been preserved in abstinence and purity, and I had worked hard to maintain that preservation. Sure, it was difficult at times, but I for one never regretted it. I guarded my thoughts, my eyes, and my innocence as much as I could manage since I was young. Unfortunately, I was naive.

A couple of weeks passed before the man returned. This time he spoke to me again and situated himself in front of my desk, blocking me from the exit. He began to insinuate that he was a police officer monitoring the exchange of drugs at the library – a claim I wrote off to my assumption that he was mentally ill. I thought he actually believed he was an officer and therefore I didn’t think anything of it.

It wasn’t until I noticed out of the corner of my eye that he was behaving strangely that I felt a hint of fear set in. As I write this even now I feel a sense of guilt wash over me and I must remind myself that the actions of this man were not provoked by anything I did. The guilt is a lie that victims like me must negate with truth over and over again:

it was not my fault.

I did not ask him to expose himself to me. I didn’t ask to become unmovable with fear as he stood between me and the door. I didn’t ask for him to sit in front of me with children and families behind him and boldly assaulted my innocence. 

I was frozen, unable to think of what to do. Hindsight tells me exactly what I could have done, and the answer is so elementary. But in the moment, I felt trapped.

Hastily, I got up from my desk and went into the back room that held the rest of the computers. I assisted patrons who looked as though they needed help, but it wasn’t long enough for the man to leave. When I returned to my desk, he was standing there waiting. He approached me.

“Am I bothering you?” he asked kindly, but his voice had a threatening undertone. I didn’t know what to say. I kept my eyes on my work. “Miss?” he insisted, “I asked if I was bothering you”.

“Why would you be bothering me?” I stuttered, barely audible.

“I was just making sure. I wouldn’t want to make you feel uncomfortable”, he said with a sarcastic tone.

“No”. I lied hastily, scared of what would happen if I told the truth. He was towering too close over me and all I wanted was for him to back away.

He turned around and I was hopeful that he would leave. Instead, I was horrified to see that he sat down in the same seat he had taken before and resumed his disgusting activity, motioning for me to watch. Little did he know that I had never seen what he was showing me.

I remember that my hands were shaking and I felt as though I would vomit. I got up and ran past him for the door and didn’t stop until I was in the employee lounge. With tears in my eyes, I told the only other person occupying the lounge that I had a problem, and that a man was in front of my desk revealing himself to me. She called the police, and they arrived a few minutes later.

When the police asked me to describe the man, I barely got out a few sentences before they turned and ran out the door saying something to each other that sounded like “that was him“. They had seen him leaving and suspected he was their target.

They never found him.

For the longest time I blamed myself. He had asked if I was bothering him and I said “no”. I  punished myself for having given him permission to fill my head with horrifying images. I told myself over and over that he knew I didn’t want that, he knew he was forcing it on me, and I didn’t believe myself. I believed it was my fault that he had traumatized me. My skirt was too short…the length of my skirt invited him to disrespect me…I didn’t tell him it wasn’t okay to commit indecent exposure…I didn’t leave fast enough…I was too nice…

Then I remembered something I remind myself of every day:

I never asked for this.

It wasn’t in my heart to deliberately request this attention from men, no matter my clothing choices or my kindness to people.

All my life I had been told: “cover up“, “don’t make it seem like you’re flirting“, “those shorts are too short“, “that dress is too tight“, by people all around me. Friends, strangers, family, media, everyone was telling me that I needed to be careful so that I didn’t invite unwanted attention from men. One wrong move, and I’ll be “asking for it“.

What kind of disgusting world demands that beauty be hidden so that others cannot perceive it perversely? What kind of demented trap do we lay for warning women not to be “too nice” in order to avoid giving off the wrong “signals”? What kind of unjust society do we live in that victims take the blame for their trauma?

Once I realized that it wasn’t my responsibility to guard a man’s thoughts or to dictate his actions I was liberated. I no longer walk in guilt and shame for being built with feminine form. I no longer feel like a dirty object that requires covering.

I wear bikinis in the summer and dresses that flatter me. I smile at passing strangers. I am loud with my friends and quiet around others. I have no power to read or to control the minds of anyone.

I’m a woman. And it isn’t the same as a siren.

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