Posted in Christian Life & Theology, Stuff No One Talks About

The Bible Does Not Promise Converts

I just read a personal account of someone who was telling of the importance of church in their life. When speaking of their daughters’ stint from church, they said this: “During the time they were out of church, we worried about them, but the Bible had promised that they would return to their faith.” (Emphasis added). That rhetoric rubs me the wrong way for two reasons: 1) That’s not Biblically sound and 2) it’s reminiscent of cult language.

The Bible does not promise that a child will not fall away from its parent’s faith if taught a thing properly and consistently. That ever-quoted verse in Proverbs is not a die-hard, one-size-fits-all kind of saying.

Train up a child in the way that he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

If this verse were an absolute truth, there would be no need for free will or personal choices. Christianity would be naught but a robotic, mechanical faith with no love as a foundational structure. If this Proverb were to be taken literally, then why is there recorded in Scripture the charge to “work out your own faith with fear and trembling”? If this were true, then atheists and agnostics, as related to the Christian faith, would not—could not—exist, as the application of that verse would make it impossible.

Furthermore, beyond the desire for a spiritual legacy to be left for their children, the writer is implying that the maintainer, so to speak, of a child’s faith, and salvation, is solely on the parent; and should that child walk away from the faith of its parents, then the parents have failed, as a result of the child’s spiritual exodus. In addition to bad theology, that is just blantant grounds for emptional manipulation and abuse. Besides, though we do have a part to play in our relationship with Him, it is God who upholds and maintains our salvation.

Having a relationship with God is a personal endeavor. She who seeks God must come boldly to the throne of grace, and she must come alone.

Posted in Christian Life & Theology, Stuff No One Talks About

Closer Than Your Next Breath: How Self-Reliance Spits in the Face of Grace

We need never shout across the spaces to an absent God. He is nearer than our own soul, closer than our most secret thoughts.

A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

I read those words yesterday morning and did little more than agree with them and marvel at the language Tozer uses throughout The Pursuit of God. I wrote a digital note on my Kindle that read: “Help me know, recognize, live in the reality of the fact that You, Lord, are indeed, closer than a breath away.” I breathed then, deeply and intentionally, to illustrate that point to myself. God is closer than our next breath.

Do me a favor and just sit with that for a minute. The God who created the stars, the planets, and every complex system in your body is not far off in some unreachable place up in the clouds, He is here. Closer than your next breath.

I did not feel the weight of Tozer’s words until later.


Yesterday was a trying day. I had errands to run and doing them throughout the city on the bus is no easy feat, especially when pressed for time. So when I got home, I ate, slept, ate again upon waking, and then, did the human thing and made a choice to sin. Note I didn’t say I “fell into sin” or “made a mistake.” According to the dictionary, a mistake is defined as “a wrong action or statement proceeding from faulty judgement, inadequate knowledge, or inattention.” That’s not what yesterday’s action was. And for the record, we humans “fall into sin” the way we fall in love—by choice. Nonetheless, I digress.

There is a moment between temptation and the act of sin (or escape). It is in that moment that choices are made, whether beneficial or not. I did not choose the road less traveled; I chose the wide, vast road. I chose self-reliance instead of grace. The Scriptures say that in the flesh “dwells no good thing” and the writer of Proverbs echoes this. In Proverbs 14:12 he writes, “there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” I knew the action I chose to do yesterday was wrong but it did not hit me until I was in the midst of preparing for bed that I had committed more than just the obvious sin I was seeking repentance for. So I repented again. Not for the obvious sin, but for the “lesser known” ones: the sins of omission, namely the sins you don’t know you commit until the Holy Spirit reveals them to you. In relying on my own strength and in my ability to logically think my way through temptation, I, essentially, slammed shut the “way of escape” God provided and ended up with more regret than I could stomach. And that’s when Tozer’s words from the morning hit me.


When the weight of the inspired theologian’s words hit me, I wanted to hide. I couldn’t of course, because you can’t hide from God—everybody knows that—but I wanted to try anyway.

I didn’t.

Instead, I sat in silence and I felt Him waiting on me. (Imagine that, God waiting on me to speak to Him!) I panicked through my prayer but I finished repenting and ended my prayer with thanks for His ultimate sacrifice: Jesus.

Now, I see that Tozer’s words were not meant as a threat, as if to place fear into the hearts of sinners, but as a reminder to those whose hearts belong to God, as an invitation to intimately know the God who is nearer than our own soul, closer than our next breath.

Posted in Christian Life & Theology, Stuff No One Talks About

If I Were to Leave Christianity, This Would be Why…

There are many things in and about Christianity that don’t make sense: the sovereign mandate to kill hundreds of men, women, and children; the outlandish and outrageous commands in the Levitical law; the command the we must forgive others or our own sins won’t be forgiven—as someone who has been in abusive and traumatic situations and relationships, this one hurts and confuses me the most—and the fact that sometimes, God just seems like a cosmic bully (just being honest). All of that can be understood, even accepted, on some level, but that’s not my breaking point. I have read enough of the old, wise theologians to know that nearly every intellectual problem, for the most part, and if one is seeking honestly and in earnest, can be answered within the Biblical text itself, if not a sound theology book or two.

No, my breaking point is much deeper than merely questioning if the flood “really happened” or if God’s decision to wipe out the entire human race in the name of a do-over is “humane” or not.

Beyond the Surface

At first glance, the intellectual wonderings seem to be what people think will be the end of the conversation, but that’s just surface-level stuff. The real matter goes deeper, way beyond the surface.

“Do not have other gods besides Me.” (Exodus 20:2)

“The person who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; the person who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And whoever doesn’t take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. Anyone finding his life will lose it, and anyone losing his life because of Me will find it. (Matthew 10:37-39)

This, above everything else, beyond all my intellectual doubts, gets me every time. If ever I were to leave Christianity, this would be why. This is my breaking point: I want to have control and God says, “No.” Some of the things God allows to happen, both in the world at large and in my own life, baffle me to no end. I cannot, for the life of me, understand His ways or why He does the things He does and I want to. The fact that I can’t angers me something fierce.

To leave Christianity—to leave God—because I want to be the one in charge and He denies me would be quite foolish. Some of the things He allows is downright painful and I can do naught to bring about change or a small portion of comfort to those suffering—myself included. I feel helpless in that regard, knowing that whatever God allows to happen will come to pass and neither I or anyone else can change His hand in the slightest. I feel more oft like a pawn in a cosmic game of chess than an adoptee of the Most High. Nonetheless, He calls me his, even though for the past few months I’ve been going back and forth between two opinions, flirting with the idea of whether or not to leave again.

Flirting with Danger

The first commandment God gives to the Israelites infers that there are other gods that exist besides Yahweh, either man-made from other religions or idols we make ourselves. It seems from a Biblical context though that God—that is, Yahweh—is to be the only really true cosmic Divine Being. If I were to leave, there would be no solace, no solemn, quiet, safe place to rest my weary soul nor would I find comfort for my ever-questioning mind.

In the End

All that being said, I know that if I left—again— I wouldn’t come back.

In fact, I would die. I don’t mean that spiritually, I mean literally.

I would kill myself and have absolutely no qualms about doing so because I’d have nothing.

I still have doubts; I still have questions; I still have panic attacks linked to spiritual things. I haven’t left Christianity or God despite my wrestling—and it’s only by His grace that I haven’t. So for now, I’m just sitting in the corner, so to speak; taking my time, being still and knowing that He is God. And that remains true, regardless of if I leave or stay.

Posted in Christian Life & Theology, Stuff No One Talks About

Thoughts on Job and Anti-Intellectualism in Christianity

I just opened up my Bible for the first time in a long time and it landed in Job. My eyes landed on 35:5 which says, “God thunders marvelously with His voice; He does great things we cannot comprehend.” That is the essence, the nature of God, wrapped up in one verse. It makes me wonder why no one ever preaches on the latter half of Job? There are so many jewels within this book and all anyone remembers is that Job lost everything, after Satan got permission from God, and that his friends were jerks in the midst of his spiritual existential crisis. That’s not what the book is about…

I don’t believe there’s any other book of Scripture that has such vast, deep, and real intellectual and analytical questions. This is important. This is probably the beginning of intellectualism recorded in the ancient Script. I mean, where else in Scripture do you have rhetoric like: “Can a man be of any use to God? Can even a wise man be of any use to Him? Does it delight the Almighty if you are righteous? Does He profit if you perfect your behavior?” (Job 22:22-23) Those kinds of queries are the things that we should set our minds on, not if the latest Hillsong/Bethel song is theologically right or not.

The Bible is meant to be a guide for living and as a mirror for our souls. I know my soul needs to be cleaned and renewed. “Does it profit God if you perfect your behavior?” This question bothers me, and I have sat here wondering why. I think I know now. This query spits in the face of religion and, to a greater extent, self-reliance. Here’s why: God created us because He wanted us. But though He wants us—make no mistake—He does not need us. So no, it does not profit God if we perfect our behavior. Our good behavior, or lack thereof, does not have any bearing on Him as a person. It only shows Him where our heart is, whether it’s allegiance is to Him or elsewhere.

Posted in Christian Life & Theology, Stuff No One Talks About

I Wish the Prosperity Gospel was Real

I wish the Prosperity Gospel was real. I really do. For those who do not know what that is, it is a false theology/belief system within Christian doctrine that says “God wants—and even promises! —health, wealth, happiness, and whatever my heart desires.” Of course, the ends to the means is on the part of the Christian to “have enough faith” to essentially change God’s mind or move His hand. Basically, in this version of Christianity, God is a genie, just existing to grant our wishes–I mean, reward us with blessings for our strong faith.

Wouldn’t that be nice? To just declare healing for a physical or mental ailment with just a small twist of Isaiah 53:5? Or to demand—because let’s be real, that’s what we’re doing—financial prosperity (i.e good jobs) because “God supplies all my needs” while having a selective memory and choosing to forget that “if a man doesn’t work, he doesn’t eat” (2 Thes. 3:10)? In a world where instant gratification would be the perfect utopia, it makes sense why we long to prostitute the God who makes demands of us.

If the Prosperity Gospel was real, I think we would be worse off because of it. I can’t speak for all Christians, so I’ll speak for me. I know I’d probably be worse off.

I wouldn’t have to struggle with trusting God to provide, or even doubt His goodness because I would know that He would want me to be happy, that that would be His primary concern, and that He would do anything and everything He could to make my happiness a reality. I wouldn’t have to contend with C-PTSD or depression or anxiety because His flesh was ripped and shred 2,000+ years ago; ergo, I could just claim my healing and instantly be made whole, just like the Scripture says (if you just twist it a little, it says that)! However, on the flipside, if something went awry—if something I prayed for didn’t come to pass—then I would be the guilty party for not having enough faith that God would do what I had petitioned Him to do.

In a world where instant gratification would be the perfect utopia, it makes sense why we long to prostitute the God who makes demands of us.

I think, for me, I want the Prosperity Gospel to be true because, if it were, then I am absolved from any real responsibility in my relationship with God. If this doctrine were true, I could, in essence, pimp God out and make Him submit to me. Per the belief system, if all He wants is my happiness, I don’t really have to adhere to His standards or expectations of living holy. And in that, I’d be no different than an agnostic or atheist.