Thursday, October 25, 2012

Grace Series: Superior and Lesser Grace

Today I’ll share a thought on the topic of grace, though not the final one. People find grace to be a commodity, as something that they expect in return, if one should be “kind” enough to give it. In this current generation, we observe the glories of capitalism and the philanthropy of the rich – both great things in an of themselves – and we inadvertently attribute grace to some sort of “money system”. Grace, far from being a gift that expects nothing in return, becomes something given to people close to the giver, a friend or family member; grace given to strangers is grace “wasted”.

Now, whether you are of faith or not, the Bible is still a source of great knowledge, and can shed some light on perfect grace.
'There is a story where two sons live under a wealthy, wealthy father. The younger son gets the idea that he is ready for living on his own, that he can make a name for himself without his father's shadow. Thus, father lets his son disown him and takes off for a far-off land, where he spends it like a child eats sweets. When he spent it all, he became very low, and was forced to feed pigs to make a wage. He earned so little, and was so hungry, that he wanted to eat the pods that the pigs fed on. Thus, he decided to beg his father to take him back – not as a son, for he destroyed that bridge when he called his father dead – as a farm-hand. Even while the younger son was far away, he saw his father running to him. His father would not hear his excuses, his plea... all he needed to hear was “Father, I have sinned I am not longer worthy to be called your son-” before he embraced his son, and brought him back into glory. '

In my eyes, this is the most graceful thing a person can do. Of course, much like a perfect gas, there can never be this occurrence. There will always be, since we are human, and thus so attached to this world, some pent-up rage in the father (or sadness, rejection, refusal, etc.) is to be expected. Most earthly fathers would, at the instant the son left, pronounce the son dead and lost. At best, I would expect myself to be like the man who gave the younger son the job of feeding pigs; being the owner of pigs doesn't make the man very rich, but he could tell this young man needed help more than he did, so he took him in. Whether he knows the man or not matters little. But the father in this story, now estranged by his son, rebuilt the bond that was broken.
Again, I’m doing everything in my power to refrain from putting the Christian ideal of the personal God into this post. This above paragraph should resonate with anyone who reads it as a message of ultimate grace – a perfection which humanity can seldom achieve, but still strives for. Grace that doesn't ask for anything in return, even the love of the person embraced by grace. In every case of grace I have heard, it's something to do with forgiveness. In this complex world we live in, that forgiveness always comes at an expectation that the forgiven party brings something in return, or continues to be penitent, or working off the damage done. Could Grace simply be, Forgiveness minus the mute or vocal expectation of the work to repair the damage?
Could the younger son have come back to the father, asking for a lesser kind of grace?
Could the father be giving the son pure forgiveness, grace without impurity?

In my next post, I will bring God into this equation of Grace, and talk about why I feel this “Superior Grace” is necessary.  

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Immortal Souls

In our lives, we make choices that damage other people. No matter whether these choices are intentionally harmful, the damage comes as an unintended side-effect, or the choice damages one person less than another, the damage done has damaged someone else. At this point, I believe everyone who draws breath agrees with me. The next step is to decide how to approach the damage done.

This is where I become quite religious. I believe that, if we are merely “it” (as it were), then damage on another is quite frivolous; another effect of a rise to greatness – one must step on the shoulders (and sometimes forcefully) of others to achieve greatness in this world. Your insults, threats, and inconsideration of another has very little impact on the world; you could be a genuinely awful person, and the world would reward you if you were financially successful. On the flip-side, you could be the kindest person in the world, and statistically make no mark on it. One could be kind “for the sake of it”, simply because it is right.

As my post “In Defense of Significance” showed, I feel pulled to a higher calling. The most difficult thing for me in Christianity is that I cannot look at the world as being inhabited by people. Flesh and blood automatons are too simplistic. As a Christian, I see every person as their soul. As a man after God's own heart, I try to see people as God would – the immortal soul who passes on after the vessel of flesh cannot support it.

Our bodies' mortality is caused by the oppressive nature of a soul on its container. After many, many years, it finally succumbs to the pull of gravity, and can no longer bear the burden inside. That's when we pass on from half-nature, half-spirit, and become a full spirit, with all the memories that it shared with its vessel. These blessed vessels then return to nature.

Thus, if one deals with immortal souls, one must also deal with the damaging of said beings. I will bring forth examples, then answer them all in kind:
Recently, a friend of mine was separated from the one she loved (no, this isn't you). Even a week after the occurrence, she is still not in a mental state fit enough to attend classes.
Equally recently, I was left alone when a friend of mine (who has done this before(no, this isn't you)) left early and had an incredible, memorable time with other friends of mine.
Much longer ago, I went to an event with friends, and I spent much, much more time with one friend that another. It turns out she was somewhat put off by my somewhat desertion of her.
Even longer ago, I had to choose between two people who were equally unloved by the group I was with.

In all these cases, souls were damaged. I cannot begin to demand that humanity as a whole becomes better, not because it is futile, but because we are such young souls. Individually, we have a miniscule amount of experience – less than a paltry hundred years for most – and history has shown that, although humanity is several millenia old, it is still continuing the same mistakes of the past. Our souls – even the wisest, strongest, and most respected amongst us – are still quite young. Our bleeding edge of discovery is Heaven's Stone Age. We are such young souls, we have still not grasped what we should and should not do.

From my limited experience, I have come to agree with a verse from the Bible, long before I heard of it.
“ justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8b)
Mercy is written all over the Bible, and I find myself most pleased when I exercise it. Even when someone else offends you, be complacent and approach them with kindness and mercy.
Justice is a thing reserved for people with more figures in their paychecks, generally. But, as with mercy, it is written all over the Bible, and painted on this Earth. When a misdeed is being carried out (modern slavery, for example), people who see it take steps to end it. Justice is not a thing to be reserved for people with more responsibility; God himself put a soul into your mother's womb, and had that soul be reared from birth to where you are, reading this post. He gives you and I the responsibility of a soul, which is much more than I would expect of him. Seeing as you are simply one soul, ask others for input; this is misdeed as terrible as I see it as? Will you help me end it? Then, multiple souls tied together for a common cause, you can take authority.
What is to keep you from abusing this authority? Look above to when I touched on God's rearing up of our souls. God makes several souls a second, cares for seven million constantly, and still has enough time left to have made you, shaping you, forming you. He is much above anything else in the world. For me, it is a thin line between taking a stand against perceived injustices and arrogating the throne of judgment and wielding the sword of God without His approval. Walking humbly through life is also written all through the Bible, and in this world. In all this, remember you are still one person.

So, in conclusion, I would ask that, if you are reading this, remember that with the mantle of Christianity comes the responsibility to treat everyone, not as people, but as immortal souls. Every scar you make doesn't go away, it is simply covered, plastered over by other events in the souls' existence. Upon mortal death, the past experiences of the soul burst away from its shell; it remembers its first thoughts, what it ate for dinner on the last day of middle school, when Jimmy broke its pencil in high school, when the calculator failed during that exam.
This may sound morbid, especially for those who have lost loved ones. Here's where it gets amazing. (If you are a Secular Humanist, I am no longer speaking to you). Since Jesus died for our sins, those damages can be forgiven, in this world or the next. Much moreso, souls are much tougher than anything in this world; the slings and arrows of a sharp tongue merely scrape. People under this assault can be rescued. A small scrape can be covered. Sometimes, one must peel away layers to get at a thorn in the shell, and in this case, the soul assisting the one in distress learns much more than it bargained for about the damaged soul. This dynamic makes life a miracle.
We are all damaged souls; I’ll be the first to say that my cracks are deep and rip open from time to time. Caverns of memories years deep spew horrid memories from darker times in my life, and it takes time for these to die down again. After my grandparents on my mother's side passed away, I began having spells of speculation on my mental state once my father passed away. I would get caught on the memory, and I would come to on the floor, racking with anguish. Not because I would lose him, but because I would miss him while I wait to join him.
I feel that I have touched on enough of this subject for this post, though there is most certainly more to touch on later.
More to come. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Poet Searching for a Stage

I have been given an incredible gift in my life, one which has a degree of uniqueness that I find incredible. This gift has no large following (that I know of) that many of its contemporaries enjoy, but I feel that this can be used to just as great an effect as said contemporaries. If you are one of the few people I am blessed to know, you can name this gift easily.

The art of Spoken Word, I believe, is something that God hand-picked for me. He put Ms. Ruth is my life at the ripe young age of eleven, to reveal my skill to me and the world. Even though I reeled at this new-found art in my life, he did not stop there, going on to throw inspiration in my life from everywhere; a pattern of the wall or something the teacher said in a lecture. It was only later, when I bought my poem book, that I realized the degree of skill I was given in this field.

Years later, I learned the value of being humble with this gift, though no fault of mine caused the epiphany. I found that, if I put myself as the creator of this poetry, I would be usurping the throne of God in my arrogance. It would be as if I, a man with a decent singing voice, were to sing a song by Chris Tomlin as if I sang as well as he can, when he was in the car with me barreling down the highway. God made birds, and their voices are much greater than mine. I assure you, I do my best to refrain from calling this poetry “mine”.

After an entire book is filled (I have ten pages left of my original journal), I finally feel I have a wide enough variety of topics to be of use to a wide variety of audiences. This is inspired by a verse I was reading yesterday, prompted by a prior mentor and persisting friend of mine, Bobby Musil. In asking him where God wanted me to go in my life, he responded with three passages from the Bible, one of which was the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7. Chapter 7 verse 7 reads:

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

(by the way, Bobby, I have read through these passages multiple times, but I need to read through them more)
I will begin knocking here. Even if you are not a leader in your ministry, church, or organization, please pass this along to them. I will speak before a variety of audiences, from school gatherings (my alma mater happens to be a Christian private school), to church services, to business meetings. I only have two requirements:

-The purpose of the function be glorifying Jesus Christ, whether directly or simply a Christian function.
-I am not glorified over Christ.

The service will be free (as a college student, I am obligated to accept donations). If you are interested, my email is

Email me, or pass my email along to someone who will. And thank you, for giving me the opportunity to share this inspiration. Here is one of my pieces (Note: I need to record this again; this audio did not please me)

subjects of poetry:
the spirit of giving/serving
The Prodigal Father
the High Road
Others soon to come

Friday, October 5, 2012


Today, i have a poem, inspired by God's Word, spoken through a man after His own heart.
This is based off of the Story of the Lost Son - Luke ch.15: 11-32

The enemy I have listened to,
Whispered me a gilded sick lie,
Cropped out all of its truth,
I was sold on a lie that looks good to the eye.

In the house, (not free from sin),
I fell prey to the lies of if & when,
Took my inheritance,
My Father thought erased,
And left to far away to waste my grace.

I spent it all, and famine came,
Once so strong, I became so lame.
Mistakes made real through unforeseen,
Through trial, from the lie, I was weaned!

This incredible letdown of a lifetime,
Let me go astray,
Twas inconceivable at the time,
That this is where I’d be!

I came to my senses at my lowest ebb,
Was feeding pigs when I set my thoughts straight,
Thought to extricate myself from this web,
And how much food Father's servants ate.

And so I made a speech for Him,
Twenty-seven letters long,
I’d beg retribution for my sin,
Through punishment, I’d atone the wrong!

As I was still far away,
I saw a figure run to me,
My Father! I know He hates,
I prepare my speech, my plea:

“Father, I have sinned against heaven and in Your sight-
I am no longer worthy to be called Your son--”
Your embrace muted me, in Your love I calmed my plight,
You held me as You threw a party for Your found son.

All along, I thought:
“O Great Father, I don't deserve the gift!
I've taken Your inheritance and squandered it!
What I’d done to deserve Your love I can't think of,
But let me work in Your fields till the kingdom come!

Why do You kill the fatted calf for me?
After all I've done – I've made You weep!
Is it this strong, my Father – Your Love??
This is the love of the One Above!”

But what of my brother? Where is he?
You leave my side to go out to him,
He hears not Your call, ignores Your plea,
His anger boils over at the brim:

“Why revel for this son of Yours?
He spoiled your will – HAVE YOU FORGOT?
No party given for my constant work,
Though this party shows his punishment is naught!”

The rage consumed him, with one word You calmed -
“Teknon – child – loved one – be calm.
There is a place in My House for you;
But my son was lost – is found! - joy so true!”

These brothers are us -
One far away, one thinks he's close,
One wastes grace, the other works for more -
BOTH equally loved, both thought not,
Such grace was not easily bought

It took the Teller of this story true,
To let Himself die for us – and you,

The story of the Prodigal Father –
Lavish in every grace and way,
I, a proud man, as it were,
Am humbled by the power of His Word!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Pulpit Freedom Sunday

This Sunday, dubbed “Pulpit Freedom Sunday”, several thousand pastors are going to state their political beliefs in front of their congregations. I have mixed feelings on the subject, as I will delineate below. For the purposes of this delineation, I will make myself falsely superior to all, so that I can avoid claims of pride. I do not need my conscious intruding on a topic such as this.

I am pleased that Christian people are fighting an injustice they feel is present, rather than (for many years) relying on simply passively allowing the will of God to work. (Note: this is a rather harsh statement, though I mean this for the Church in general, not any specific congregation, nor even a region of congregations. Rather, the direction the Body itself has taken.)

On the other hand, I am angered at the direction these pastors take. God doesn't need our petty human alliances preached from a pulpit, and he surely doesn't want them. If a pastor wishes to endorse a political party, then I would think he should then preach the values the candidate or party holds, and have the people come to the party themselves. Separation of Church and State, I believe, should hold true both ways. These two friends should remain apart, though you'd think they never do.

Personally, I feel the government should remain secular, without any religious influence, while the people operating it carry their religious views. Thus, preaching politicos at the pulpit make me shudder for their faith. I must be missing something, for thousands of men of faith much stronger in their faith than I have decided that this is okay. But, if these men preach to the masses, that gives them the impression that God allows such things, and that God has a stake in human government. With this flawed view of God, these masses would then challenge many other things, and attempt to make the government of this nation Christian.

This may sound amazing to a Christian, until you take into account the rest of the people of America. Suddenly, a Christian government is more harsh to the other religious opinions, and the American Experiment suffers. Furthermore, I feel Christianity is something best to be spread on a one-to-one basis; a government of Christianity would drown people in the scripture, and we'd lose many, many people sue to the unavoidable nature of the gospel in this nightmare scenario. It's as if you turn the lights on in a room of sleepers; the light harms them so much. 

This is simply a cautionary warning for my fellow Christians: Leave your political views on the sanctuary doorstep. If you must talk about politics, talk about the people themselves, not their party or affiliations. Keep the debate about ideals, not people. For all people are flawed; if it were a judgment call based on the merits of any candidate (of any race), I would be hard-pressed to judge. God cares not for the politics of humankind, thus you should try to follow in his example. Note the word, try. 

Simply the hastily-written report from a flawed man.  

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Fictitious Theory on Godhood

Note: The theories explained in this post have no weight on my perceptions of reality, but are merely as fictitious in my mind as the stories of dragons and magic I am equally enamored with

A long time ago, I read half of The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, wherein I was introduced to an exciting theory, and this is an abstract of the writing: thinking from a nonbeliever's perspective, the listening to our every thought of, responding to said thoughts of, and manipulations of a higher power as recorded in the Bible would point to the existence of technology so advanced, so incredible. The fact that we have yet to find a single tangible piece of evidence toward this power points further to its omnipotence. But, because the term of technology was used, it impregnates the mind with a thought that humans can achieve this ability.

Then, I began to delve into the realm of fiction further, melding this theory with the theory of multiple universes, or that this universe is a cycle of collapse and re-expansion. The result is that in a past expansion, mortals developed the technology of gods, and survived the collapse. Then, they honed this, and became higher powers, entities, giving up their “humanity”, their “mortality”, to become god(s). could not these “gods” develop technology to produce separate creations, as I did in my blog post earlier?

Thus, a new area of fiction erupts in my mind. Demons could be the angels of another demigod, and our demigod could be the first to make a perfect species, hiding his creation from the others, for he knows of their jealousy. Could the constellations then be other demigods, searching for us while they take their laboratories with us? Could not a black hole be the garbage pile of the gods, where one would find the best materials?

As you can see, this is the fiction I dabble in. In the future, I will produce a novel based on the idea. I've always wanted to make a “sensible” notion for magic to occur, and technology of such an advanced degree as to allow for such “magic” would make for an interesting twist.

Stay Tuned. 

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