Legit Letters

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to attend BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) once a week, which is an international program for women and they do a study of one book of the Bible each year. The program includes an absolutely amazing children’s program and my littlest one was able to learn a mini version of what I was studying each week. Another gift was the interaction and support from the small group of women you meet with each week. We had a beautiful woman as our leader who encouraged us and prayed for us. Although I have not participated since, it is something I highly recommend and look forward to doing again as things settle and both of my children are in school.

I happened to land on the year that they were studying the book of John, which I feel was just perfect for me. It allowed me to hear the clear basics of the Gospel in such a helpful way. I was encouraged in many ways, but the most valuable piece to me and what kept shining through is the validity of this Gospel message. There were several times that I found myself thinking, “this just sounds so real” or “you just couldn’t have made this up” (P.S. I tend to naturally approach my faith from a skeptic’s view. I wish I were more of an easy believer, but I also know doubts can strengthen faith, too, so it’s not all bad).

As I recently looked back in my notes, several tidbits jumped out to me, but a common theme I love is how cool it is that the patterns and traditions (albeit seemingly strange to us) of the Old Testament were some of the ways God prepared people to understand the significance of Jesus’ crucifixion. He was the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” and Jesus died at Passover as the Passover Lamb.

I love the genuineness and humanness of the people mentioned in the book of John; especially Nicodemus and Peter. Nicodemus was a fancy-pants religious leader at the time, but was so curious and knew there was more to life. He suspected great truth in Jesus and risked his high status by going at night to visit Jesus in order to learn more. He’s become one of my favorite biblically historical figures. I can’t help but love and have compassion for Peter because of his passion and humanness. I can very often relate to him and look forward to meeting him in eternity.

I’ve heard it numerous times, but if you are a new believer, a wonderful place to start is the book of John. I still have very simple bible basics because I continue to prioritize many other things above scripture reading, but each time I’m given the opportunity to really dig into a book of the Bible, I find myself both challenged and soothed by what I learn. I’m finding that opportunity through recent bible studies within my church’s women’s studies and I’m incredibly thankful for the hope and encouragement it provides.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

Bashing Bondi

It’s been almost a week since the devastating massacre in Orlando. What emotions this has stirred up across the globe and especially on social media. I have Facebook friends on all sections of the political and spiritual spectrum, so that leads to an array of posts on the issues that stem from such an awful event…guns, Muslims, radical Islam, LGBT community, Obama, Trump, etc. It can make your head spin and cause us to lose focus on what has really occurred. Human beings, hated for their sexual preferences and lifestyle and/or race, were blatantly murdered by an angry, distorted man. It is wrong in every single direction and no one, regardless of their personal beliefs and personal choices, deserves such hatred.

The other night I watched a bit of “I Am Jazz”, a show about a young child struggling with gender-identity and her journey through the transitional period that started at a very young age with hormone-altering drugs, etc. It was disturbing to see, but an additional takeaway for me was the honest portrayal they gave of the backlash and straight-up bullying this and other trans kids endure as a result of their decision. I don’t agree with such extreme measures at that young age, but no matter what decision they and their parents have made, NOTHING is deserving of ugly, hateful, judgmental words.

With SO much information coming from many different directions and sources, it is confusing to know truth. What news channels or websites are accurately and responsibly sending out information and opinions? Should I be for or against gun control? Does it really matter if Obama refers to it as “Radical Islam” or not? It’s what keeps me from regularly really diving into the political arena or keeping up with the news. It’s why I generally play devil’s advocate to a great deal of my husband’s conservative perspective on issues (and I’m a touch stubborn). Another social issue that this recent trauma has brought up again that I continue to struggle with is my personal opinion on homosexuality. I go back and forth on what I think. My faith plays a major part in my thoughts on this matter. I read about it. I have asked questions of people on both sides. I’ve prayed about it. No matter where I fall on it at any given moment, it will always be my personal opinion. I am allowed to still have that, right?

There are obviously way too many people, some claiming to be followers of Christ, that are plain ol’ ugly, mean, judgmental, and critical of others that they deem sinful (forgetting the log in their own eye! Matthew 7:3). But not everyone feels and acts that way! There are Christians who may not agree with someone’s lifestyle, but still show love. I don’t hate someone because they have a different lifestyle than me. I know many people that don’t speak aggressively or ugly towards others that have different beliefs. I would certainly never think someone, like a person in the LGBT community, would ever be deserving of brutal murder for their lifestyle. I feel terribly that anyone would feel threatened, bullied, or in fear of their life for a lifestyle preference. YET, even though I feel heavy-hearted over how they must be feeling and want to support them as they recover from the Orlando massacre, I’ve somehow been led to feel that I’m not allowed to still disagree with their lifestyle. Why would I not be able to hold a personal belief that stems from my own personal faith? There are articles like these that imply Christians are inadvertently being held accountable for the Orlando massacre and that is very disheartening to me.

If I do decide that I don’t believe homosexuality is what God intended for his creation, then I could be “de-friended” on Facebook and thrown into the pit, like Florida State Attorney Pam Bondi was during her interview with Anderson Cooper. On my newsfeed I saw friends thrilled that he tore into her, implying she is a hypocrite for now supporting the LGBT community when previously, she adamantly fought against their right to marry in the state of Florida. Remember when I said I don’t often engage in politics or tune in to the news? Please hear me say that I know zilch about Pam Bondi, besides her job title and from the interview I watched yesterday, it’s obvious she fought against gay marriage to, as she said,”uphold the constitution for the state of Florida”. I have no clue if she’s a Christian.  I have no idea if she’s a big Meany-pants in real life. However, what I did hear her saying in that interview is that she was appalled by the atrocity that happened in Orlando and that she supports human life and wants to help the LGBT community. I do not personally feel strongly opposed to gay marriage or civil unions, but this lady is entitled to her opinion (and her designated career responsibilities) and that does not automatically discredit her seemingly heartfelt efforts to support the LGBT community after such a scary event. I believe someone should be able to sympathize and support another, even if they may not agree with their lifestyle.

Like I said, emotions can reach an all-time high at times like these. With folks on polar opposite sides of political and social issues, it can lead to aggressive words. What I want is the freedom to respectfully hold my personal beliefs and I currently don’t feel like that’s the case. This does not mean I have the right to belittle and aggressively torment those that don’t hold the same beliefs. It would also mean that just because I may not agree with you, it does not mean I should be treated as ignorant or heartless. I believe living in this country affords us the right to hold our own opinions, whilst still respecting mankind and being able to gently encourage and love other human beings through such painful times as these.

Do you believe in life after love?

Why I titled this post with a line from one of Cher’s songs, I’ll never know. It’s just what has been in my mind for a few days now as I’ve thought of this topic. Seeing that no one really consistently reads this blog except for my husband, I can get away with things like that. This post’s theme is a “religious” one, which may be why the song lyric came to mind; except with the word “death” as the last word. Get it? “Do you believe in life after death?” (sung like Cher) Is it now singing in your mind?

As I’ve shared before on my previous abortion post, I tend to shy away from hot topics and highly controversial issues on social media. Facebook can be an obnoxious collection of posts, articles, & comments that I really assume not many people pay attention to; especially when it argues your own beliefs, but sometimes I feel lead to add my two cents. I’m not scared to per say, but don’t want to give someone a reason not to like me (which I tend to care about more than I should).

A Facebook friend recently posted this article. It’s titled, “How Secular Family Values Stack Up” and focuses on a growing American demographic that include families raising kids without religion. The research shows that the children from these families generally have moral values intact and not any less than that of a religious-based family. This group demographic refer to themselves as “Nones” as they believe in “nothing in particular”. The article goes on to show that a significant number of these families are as close, if not closer, to their children and passionately provide moral direction and were goal-oriented. A reference to the “Golden Rule” was mentioned as one common, simple principle. All of that information makes complete sense and does not surprise me in the least. There are genuinely good, beautiful, and well-adjusted kids being raised by loving, supportive, and nurturing parents and they are coming from both secular and faith-based families. It’s a fact.

 It seems to me that America is becoming more nonreligious by the minute and less likely to cling to an often-considered archaic, legalistic, sometimes seemingly close-minded, systematic type of crutch like Christianity. To a lot of circles, Christianity in particular, is not appealing and certainly not on trend. Most Christians do not believe homosexuality is approved, are not fans of women’s right to choose abortion, and are not generally open-minded towards other religions of the world. Christianity seems to be at the bottom of an uphill battle with the ways in which it has been typecasted for so long. If you are open-minded and a free-thinker, why would you be weighed down by religion and furthermore, why would you raise your kids under the confines of such a belief system? It generally goes against what is roaring these days, and that is one’s freedom to express themselves and live for today. Seek happiness. YOLO mentality. I get that big time. Sometimes it seems super appealing to me to throw caution to the wind and do whatever the heck I want; to live life freely and not think of anything but the here and now. Not that a Christian lifestyle doesn’t allow freedom (because that is essentially what the Gospel does give), but it’s a different type of freedom.

A problem I see with the referenced article is that there is so much more to someone’s faith than just checking off the box of “religion”. I am personally a believer in Christ, but I came to that decision after much digging and doubt. I mentally debated a lot of the aforementioned issues on Christianity and my natural stubbornness encouraged me to not simply lie down and believe something just because it’s what I’m supposed to do. I hope to never raise my kids to just have a “religion”, but rather encourage them to think on all the evidence for and against a Creator and know why they believe what they believe. The article seems to dismiss the fact that a “Nones” family may be subconsciously encouraging their children to actually not be free-thinkers and open-minded, but rather the opposite, if “religion” (as it tends to be stereotyped) is dismissed as illogical or unworthy of researching. Which leads me to what I’ll be writing in my next post…why I believe what I believe.

Wherever you lie on the spectrum of faith, be anything but ignorant. Research and know what you believe (and give your children the gift of true open-mindedness to explore all avenues, no matter what you may declare as truth).