CC BY 2.0 Licensed from seyed mostafa zamani - https://www.flickr.com/photos/seyyed_mostafa_zamani

Who Are You Hooking Up With?

CC BY 2.0 Licensed from seyed mostafa zamani - https://www.flickr.com/photos/seyyed_mostafa_zamaniThis has been an issue that I believe needs addressing in Western churches ever since I experienced it in Australia and back here in Canada. As a result, I have become wary of being vulnerable and immersing myself in a church before I know what values the church is based on. It takes more than a missions statement, it takes discernment to know what is or isn’t influencing the congregation. The flock needs to be nurtured and protected from false and worldly doctrine or else we would be among wolves dressed up in sheep’s clothing and the world would cease to know any difference between us when we are supposed to be “the light of the world”.

When you are from a third world country and the breadwinner of the family, and your first priority is all the mouths you have to feed, it’s easy to justify prostituting your body for the sake of others’ welfare. In a western society, we have the “luxury” of prostituting ourselves in less obvious and more socially acceptable ways. We idolize by “selling ourselves out” on things in our lives and don’t hold ourselves accountable to the lusts of the material world, work, relationships, and status, but right now I’m gonna focus on the topic of our lusting with the flesh.

Some people treat the church like a place to hook up instead of getting hooked on God. Holiness isn’t being preached with conviction as much as it should be in comparison to lets say the Philippines, in a Catholic based nation where they understand sins are as clear as black and white. There is no grey area in the Bible.

Some people treat the church like a place to hook up instead of getting hooked on God.

As I look back, I recall asking the bar girls about their reasons of why they prostitute themselves and their answer was that they knew what they were doing was wrong according to God but they felt like there was no choice for them. I see that the battle is so much more subtle in its approach when it comes to Western society.. churches are not addressing it as much because it is so embedded in our culture. It becomes more of a “free pass” card in which Christians justify that there is grace, therefore not owning up to their behaviour because “God loves me” and “He knows my heart”. Yet we should know that our own hearts are prone to evil.

Living Godly Lives in a Pagan Society
“Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.”
1 Peter 2:11

“But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Matthew 5:28

Is being a sellout the same as prostituting yourself?

The word “Sellout” is defined as:
A person who compromises his or her personal values, integrity, talent, or the like, for money or personal advancement.

The word “Prostitution” is defined as:
1. The act or practice of engaging in sexual intercourse for money.
2. A person who offers his/her talent or work for unworthy purposes.

It isn’t just compromising in sexual acts. Lusting with your eyes and your heart is equally as dangerous because it glorifies a cheap thrill in playing with fire before you have made a commitment to that person and eventually someone gets burned. It not only compromises your friendships with people but your connection and their relationship to God as well. Self gratification is put on a pedestal instead of seeking the needs of others and treating them as a precious image of God. It devalues and discredits those whom we are to regard as brothers and sisters in Christ and makes them stumble in sin as well. It’s so explicitly clear in the bible yet some churches are tiptoeing around the issue so as not to offend people. The enemy would love for us to compromise in our actions and with the standards of how we allow people to treat us… But we are Christ bearers and we need to be accountable to each other in word and in deed.

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:7

“The Lord said to Moses,  “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the Lord, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by chasing after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes.” Numbers 15:37-41

Back then they had tassels and nowadays we have purity rings. Perhaps this verse started that idea of having purity rings to keep pure until marriage.

“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” Galatians 5:13

Maybe I have been in a conservative Catholic nation for a long time… but maybe there is something to learn from the devotion of the religious rather than conforming to suit a secular society. Yet there is a balance to everything. It’s like the Catholics focus on outward expressions of devotion in application to their belief whereas the western ideology is very individualistic and ” it’s not what you see but it’s the heart that counts”.

I find that churches can make the mistake of using “grace” to overcompensate when it comes to not being legalistic but God told us to honour him with our mind and body.

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;  you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your bodies.”
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:2

I’m not narrowing this down just to men but it’s what I have come across personally. And frankly, I am tired of experiencing this in churches which are not addressing the topic of holy living. As a result we are just playing church instead of living it out in our daily lives the rest of the week. Women should not have to subject themselves to compromises and only express themselves when it is in a safe environment with other women. It is something that men need to address with their own fellow brothers on how to treat women as sisters and also for women to teach each other how to treat men as brothers in Christ. It takes an equal effort on both sides.

italian fest3

Women’s ministries need more godly men who are willing to keep Christ as their first priority and to model the Father heart of God, who doesn’t seek his own desires but rather to look out for the well-being of others. Healing takes place when women recognize that they are valuable and treasured as they are and not how the world views them. There is a desperate need for more godly role models where men have failed to show love appropriately, including their earthly fathers who have not demonstrated love effectively. There are hearts in need of the healing touch of God’s love that only He can satisfy.

“In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”
2 Timothy 2:20-22

How are you using your gifts and talents, are they for noble purposes that glorify God or does it satisfy the self? How are we going to be useful to God when the very people we are co-labourers with still think and act like a non-believer? In my conversation with a non-Christian friend, it is evident that men in church are getting a bad reputation for the way they treat girls like they are in a club rather instead of a place of devotion to God. In fact, she said they seem to be worse than non-believers. When we have the title of being a Christian, all eyes are going to be on us and just as the media loves to focus on the negative aspects which seem to outweigh the positive… each one of us must hold strong to our values as an advocate for everyone we come across to follow Christ’s example.

As a single Christian woman, the comment of my non-Christian friend is discouraging because not only am I experiencing the frustration of it myself but how much harder will it be for the next generation to overcome temptations of this world. As the world gets darker, we have the mandate to shine brighter. Being manly has to be redefined because our culture has embraced it as a “boys will be boys” mentality instead of seeing it through Christ’s standard. I’m not sure what issues men struggle with but I can say that women have a tendency to feel a sense of unworthiness or not being good enough and therefore need the love and affirmation that only God can give them. There’s the counterfeit type of love which is found in the world but nothing goes as deep as God’s unconditional love.

I had to go on Wikipedia to search for the book (I have yet to read) by C.S. Lewis called “The Four Loves”. This is according to the book on the four loves:

Storge – Natural Affection (fondness through familiarity (a brotherly love), especially between family members or people who have otherwise found themselves together by chance.), Philia – Friendship (the love between friends. Friendship is the strong bond existing between people who share common interest or activity.), Eros – Romantic (physical or sexual love), and Agape – Love of God (Unconditional love)

Personally, I can see where I have gone wrong when it comes to reaching out to those who unconsciously struggle with God’s unconditional love, especially when it comes to the opposite sex. I have unknowingly put myself in the place of God instead of letting myself be a channel of agape but only to the measure that I am to give and not any more or any less. We are only human with innate needs that only God can meet even when you are in a marriage. When there is disappointment or lack of reciprocation, I am reminded that my eyes have strayed from my first love, Christ himself. Unconditional love requires having no boundaries or requirements to meet, but it is not possible to not have those restrictions or caution in a fallen world. God is showing me that He truly desires the best for me and has my best interest at heart. I’m learning to wait on him and not be too quick to try and rescue people. And that requires trusting in Him to come through for others including myself. Standards are there for a reason and it doesn’t take compromise at your expense to be a “good Christian”. Women like me who feel like they need to fix every broken person they meet need to realize that only God can satisfy that longing of agape for them, as well as ourselves. And that our sense of worth is not to be determined by how others treat us but how Christ sees us as worthy. There is nothing we can do or not do to earn His love.

“God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:37-39me and steph

The world may offer counterfeit love but nothing measures up to the amazing love of Christ that is freely offered to those who seek after his heart. Let’s not be advocates of “His unconditional love” by hugging our fellow brothers and wondering why they want more than friendship, ladies. And for the “Prince Charmings” out there, be careful to not let your smooth talking make a girl’s heart stray from her one True Love, Christ of course, before she meets her husband.

I’ve been so accustomed to battling things of the flesh in the Philippines that Spiritual battles that are unseen catch me off guard and its time to be trained up again on a different turf. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23. I have been feeling like I try to be the hero before waiting on God’s timing and when I’ve overstepped my personal boundaries, I am overpowered only to be rescued by Jesus once again. It’s humbling but it shows our human weakness in need of His saving grace. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

Housewarming BBQ

It’s interesting that lately I have been getting many short stories in my English class that has a theme of religion. It challenges me to not compartmentalize my Christian beliefs from my school life and if there is freedom to express your beliefs, then take that chance. In my analytical essay exam that is analyzing a passage of our choice, I decided to write that in order for the religious to save others, sometimes its the religious (mindset) that first needs to experience redemption and grace. I was even allowed to put Biblical quotations in it. For those who were brought up in a Christian home, or have that “Never-good-enough Chinese striving mentality” (using me as an example) it is easy to make it about how well we do or don’t do instead of God delighting in us no matter what the outcome is by the world’s standards, but He sees us as worthy enough to die for. He will always come through for us. Sometimes we need to be humbled so that God can take over.Family

“Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Matthew 23:12

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20

He is all knowing and is not surprised by our shortcomings. What the enemy has tried to use against you, God will turn it around and use it for His glory. May we always put that in the forefront of our mind in everything we do and know that He is enough for all that we desire in life and more.

My professor whom I talked to about my faith has tried to talk about evolution but not according to the video that I sent him so it was quite difficult to even discuss topic of loopholes found in evolution. I have done my part and that’s all God requires of us to do. I’ve signed up for his course for next semester and it will be talking about religion shaping society so that should be an interesting topic. I’m sure I’ll have talks with him at his office again. I sent my missions video to my Psychology and English professor from last semester and they wrote back saying that they were encouraged by the work in the Philippines. In the Islam course that I recently withdrew from, I felt like my spiritual life was being drained from me by being forced to read about a view of God that contradicted my personal relationship with Him. I expressed my feeling of regret for going against my intuition, thinking I could handle a course like that to the house church group and the leader told me how her friend took a religious course and how it veered him away and now he’s no longer a Christian. I’m not saying I would’ve been like that but anything that takes my time away from His truth is threat enough for me. On top of that, the enemy was at work trying to make me compromise my standards in relationships and forfeit the best that God has for me. Someday I’ll look back at all of this and laugh, is all I gotta say. Hence why I felt like I needed to confess my frustrations in this post. I’m in dire need of a vacation from drama. I’ve been having insomnia for more than 5 weeks now and I don’t know the cause of it… All I can think of is that I need something settled in my Spirit.

20140701_151715
Happy Canada Day!

I have recently checked out a house church that gathers on a weekday, which is meeting at people’s houses instead of a church building. It’s been around for 20 years but they are now putting their building up for sale and getting back to basics, which is to expand the church through house churches. It’s pretty much just like how the New Testament churches in the Bible started out from, where you would gather where ever you could. Many churches invest more money in maintaining a building when it could be invested in mission and other needs of the people. A friend from the Langara Christians Club invited me and immediately I felt like I could be myself and be vulnerable to share openly in an intimate setting. I have so much to share and no group to share it with so although I was new, I talked a lot for a newbie. As I shared my struggles, I found that others could relate with me in regards to work and school. As someone who has experiences as a returning missionary that others cannot necessarily relate to, I’m learning to depend on God more for my source of affirmation and not have expectations on others in areas that only God can minister to.

at a house church with interesting pets..
at a house church with interesting pets..

On Sundays, I have also been attending what I call “The Thrift Shop Church” that I mentioned earlier (it just sounds more catchy that way) where I can get fed, whereas being at the house church is where I can confide with others more. I guess for now I’m caught in an in between kind of phase where I need healing to take place without feeling obligated to invest my time into pouring in and receiving from one church.

As I wrote this around 7:30 AM on a Saturday (due to my insomnia), I feel God showing me answers while blogging to my own personal question on wondering why and how things happen. I sense a personal breakthrough coming forth… God knows how to meet me where I am at and quite literally too. A few hours later, I went to work and as I started my shift at a stadium concession stand, our supervisor shouts out among us, “Who goes to church?!” I was shocked to hear such a random question and my co-worker who is Anglican says, “I do!” When I asked why, she said that she hasn’t been going and needs to go to church. I love how bold she was to announce it like that. I told her about the church at the Thrift Shop and told her where it was located around and her reaction was, “That’s the street where I live! I could just walk there from my house!” And she high-fives me haha. I told her that it was meant to be! I was so encouraged. Honestly, it hasn’t been easy coming back to work at a place where I started my first job in grade 11 after being away for years on the mission field. It’s like having a glimpse of what I want to do in the future and then feeling like you have gone back to the very beginning. I have been taking the job for granted but God has given me effortless friendships through it. My dear co-worker, an older lady I’ve been inviting events to, opened up to me more about her past experiences with going through many denominations and coming across brainwashing and control. She prays all the time but isn’t going to church. I told her the structure of the churches I am currently going to, which is not your average conventional church that meets in a building owned by the church itself. She agreed that church should be just like that and is open to come check it out sometime. God knows that I needed to have empathy towards her in order to be able to reach out to her. If I didn’t experience brokenness in church, who knows if I could have the incentive to invite her?

gal pals

“The Lord builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the exiles of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.” Psalm 147:2-4

If God knows each star by name, how much more is he willing to call out to those who have been wounded and outcast. I know that in my healing, I am able to help heal others but not because of my “wholeness” or “holiness” but it is by His grace and unconditional love.

I am finding that many people have experienced Christianity in some way whether in negative or positive aspects somewhere along their lives. Even the professor who teaches Islamic history considers himself a “Christian” but believes there’s more ways to God than through Jesus, which pretty much cancels out being a Christian. I have to keep a long term perspective when it comes to being here on mission because its easy to want to do things our way instead of enjoying the journey that can sometimes look like an obstacle course on a battlefield. But once you overcome and learn from it, God is then able to entrust you with what He has in store for the future.

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3

There is no such thing as a perfect church on earth but that’s why we are called to love, encourage and strengthen one another to prepare for the day we get to see the Kingdom of heaven. May His kingdom come, His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

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