This Is a Test

Ever feel like life is testing you?

Like it’s asking you, “OK, now how positive are you?” as it slaps another problem in your lap.

You have a bit of a freak out, and then tell yourself to breathe and think of the best case scenarios instead of the worst. But really, what’s running through your head is just “f#####¢k…. now?? I was just starting to get things together again.”

In my mind, this is what 2014 looks like:

I will produce another short film, this time take it to Cannes, and other film festivals. I will make a documentary for the 168 Film Festival this year, though probably not attend. I will make a little trip to Hawaii sometime between January-March, and return to Paris in May, for Cannes. I will continue working on my web series idea, but with everything else going on, it probably won’t happen this year. After a few months in Paris, I’ll hit the road/sky/sea and do a little traveling, returning to L.A. by the end of the year.

But this is how 2013 is ending:

Very slow with the background work, only 2-3 days a week and nothing so far this week. I think it’s hiatus already. I’m spending the rest of the year at home, which I figured would give me time to write scripts and music (oh yeah, forgot to put that in there. I want to get songs done this year, and perform while traveling!). My mom ended up in the hospital last week, and is in rehab maybe even through Christmas, which makes me kind of wish I could be around to keep her company or help out or something, but tickets right now (thank you, Christmas….) are at least $800. That and the fact that I can’t leave my pets alone means I’m sticking to my original plan. Then yesterday I get an email from the tenants of the mobile home I own, saying they’re giving their 30 days notice. After almost 2 years. Seriously?! Mid-month, right before Christmas?! You’re kidding…. So now everything else I thought I could focus on takes a backseat to not losing over $1000 next month if I don’t get someone in right away, and over $2000 for February if I still don’t have someone in there. I only make a little over $2000 a month and have nothing in savings except the $300 I just started a savings account with yesterday for the tenants’ deposit refund. I was just starting to relax about the money situation. And between you and me, I don’t even have the money to give them their deposit back, so I’m relying on the next tenant’s deposit for that. It’s been a horrible year, financially.

So. I’m a little overwhelmed and want to hide under something, but I know I can’t. I know every moment now needs to be spent trying to earn money and find new tenants. I don’t know if I’ll get this short film done. The person I was going to write with just bowed out because she has her own financial crisis right now, and even without these tenants leaving and potentially losing me money I don’t have, Cannes is not looking like it’ll happen this year. Maybe next year….

I’m a little tired of this one-thing-after-another pattern. I just wanted some time to settle in, earn a little money, and move forward again.

I know I shouldn’t freak out and sob over something that hasn’t even happened yet, but the stress of knowing what the worst case scenario is and how it affects the rest of my year is kind of a downer. After the last two tenants I had periods of 2 weeks to a month where the place was empty, and I lost a lot of money. This year… I don’t have that money to lose.

But I’m trying to manage my reaction. Instead of “whaaaaayyyyyy?!” I’m trying to breath and think, “OK, it’s just something that needs to be done.” And it means I just have to work extra hard if I want to survive, and also fulfill my creative goals. The more crises I have to deal with in life, the more prepared and calm I will be for future ones, right?

I’ve also been listing some of my things for sale on eBay, and etsy, and in addition to earning a little money (about $200 in the past month, yay!) I’m also clearing out my life a bit. With this extra pressure on for the holidays, it’s forcing me to look even harder at what I own and what I can part with. So that’s a good thing.

But perhaps it’s all a lesson on inner peace… something you keep no matter what’s going on in your life. Something I’m still working on finding…. :-P I don’t believe that God sends hardships, or sickness, or sorrow… but I also haven’t quite found the secret to overflowing blessings and abundance. Perhaps Matthew 6:33 is the secret….

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

I’m trying, I’m trying….. :-P

17 comments

  1. Steve

    I will tell you one thing. God definitely punishes people. That is not a bad thing. Any good parent will discipline their children. If a parent loves his child, he will discipline the child. A parent who does not discipline his child when the child rebels, will end up with a very poorly behaved child.

    As a Christian, when something bad happens to me, the first thing I do is examine my life and think about anything that I might be doing that God is disciplining me for. I can usually find plenty of things and usually there are some extremely obvious things. Sometimes I get a little bit frustrated when God Disciplines me, but I know it is for my own good. He is doing it out of love. He wants me to stop sinning. The good news is that when I do live sin free, the blessing from God are incredible, often times even including material things. I can’t guarantee that God will necessarily bless you financially if you live a sin-free life, but there is a good chance he will.

    You may ask why some atheists are rich. The reason is simple. They are not God’s children. God is not necessarily going to fell the need to discipline them because they are not his children. If you are a parent, you don’t discipline the neighbor’s children. You usually only discipline your own children. In addition, the rich atheist is not going to go to Heaven. So he may have a little fun here on Earth for a short period, but what good is that? The true riches are in Heaven. Living for eternity in Heaven is 1000x times greater than having a little fun on Earth for a short period.

    Anyway, I occasionally meet people who call themselves Christians who don’t think that God punishes people. I am astounded by this. What Bible are they reading? There are so many examples. One that comes to mind is the man that Jesus heals and then Jesus tells the man, “You are healed now. Now stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.”

    • thedreamer

      No, I don’t think that’s how God works. Yes, if we make a bad decision or have poor judgement, we’ll probably learn a hard lesson. But do you think God would, say, kill a child to punish a parent for something? Give someone cancer to punish them? Satan has come to destroy, God sent Jesus so that we may have life (John 10:10). I don’t think we should be attributing the works of the devil to God. We are here to learn, and not everything is going to be easy or go our way, What counts as “punishment”, anyway? Everyone sees situations differently. What might seem like punishment to me may not seem like punishment to someone else, and vice versa. Things happen, and it’s up to us to give meaning to them (if we want). If your mother were in the hospital with an injury, for example, would you say God was punishing her for something? Or that perhaps she made some bad decisions, or was in the wrong place at the wrong time? God isn’t out to hurt us.

      There are no moral prerequisites for being an object of God’s love. Jesus hung out with some pretty iffy characters in his day, right? And did he ever deny someone healing if they weren’t Jewish? There are two kinds of people in the world… the people who are in God’s hands and know it, and the people who are in God’s hands and don’t know it.

      I highly doubt that there is anyone in the world who lives sin-free. I think the whole point of Jesus coming is that being sin-free is impossible. I mean, we as humans can’t even agree on what sin IS, other than separation from God.

      There are rich Christians, and poor atheists, I don’t think it depends on their faith. There are ways to earn more money if you have less morals, yes, but if you’re bright enough and motivated and talented in a profitable field, I’m sure you can pile up some cash.

      As for the verse you reference, John 5:14… check out John 9:3, and John 10:10 too. The man that he healed had to stop playing the victim and start taking responsibility for his life. Jesus wasn’t threatening him, he was telling him that he needed to choose to be responsible, to be vigilant towards the forces that kept him sick, or he’d end up in the same place. I mean… say for instance you’re out of shape because you sit on the couch watching TV all day. Then you start going to the gym. You get in shape. What’s going to happen if you go right back to your old life of sitting around watching TV? That progress you made, that healing… it’s going to go away. God isn’t punishing you. It’s you not being responsible in your own life. Everything in your life that you don’t like isn’t some form of punishment. That thorn in your flesh is not put there by God. You can learn through the events in your life, but I sure wouldn’t attribute death, disease and misfortune to God….

  2. Steve

    You bring up some interesting points. I don’t have time right now to touch on all of them but I will address a couple of them. As I said before, there is a huge difference between a person (who claims to be a Christian) who intentionally lives in sin vs a person who does not live in sin but occasionally slips. I will give you an example. Let’s say that I am a Christian and I go to a strip club once a week and I have no intention of stopping. That would be an example of living in sin without repenting. The Bible says over and over and over again that you must repent. Repentance is a requirement. There is no debate about that. Now let’s compare that first case to the second case of a Godly person who does not live in sin. Let’s say the Godly person goes out one night and gets drunk and then goes to a strip club. He realizes that what he did was wrong. He apologizes to God, he asks for forgiveness, and he repents and goes back to a sin-free life. He may sin again a month later, but when he does slip and sin, he repeats the steps I just mentioned (apologizes, asks for forgiveness, and repents). In addition, he must be sincere. Only God knows if the man is sincere.

    Anyway, I hope you can see the difference between the first case and the second case. It is shocking to me that some Christians don’t understand the difference and they think it is fine to sin whenever they want because “we are all sinners”.

    To touch more on the subject of God’s discipline, here is a great explanation that I found on-line:

    Question: “When, why, and how does the Lord God discipline us when we sin?”

    Answer: The Lord’s discipline is an often-ignored fact of life for believers. We often complain about our circumstances without realizing that they are the consequences of our own sin and are a part of the Lord’s loving and gracious discipline for that sin. This self-centered ignorance can contribute to the formation of habitual sin in a believer’s life, incurring even greater discipline.

    Discipline is not to be confused with cold-hearted punishment. The Lord’s discipline is a response of His love for us and His desire for each of us to be holy. “My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in” (Proverbs 3:11-12; see also Hebrews 12:5-11). God will use testing, trials, and various predicaments to bring us back to Himself in repentance. The result of His discipline is a stronger faith and a renewed relationship with God (James 1:2-4), not to mention destroying the hold that particular sin had over us.

    The Lord’s discipline works for our own good, that He might be glorified with our lives. He wants us to exhibit lives of holiness, lives that reflect the new nature that God has given us: “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy’” (1 Peter 1:15-16).
    http://www.gotquestions.org/Lord-God-discipline.html

    • thedreamer

      But there isn’t a list of definite sins. One person could be convinced that something is a sin (say, eating meat), and another convinced that it’s not. Someone may not believe that they’re sinning, so then why would they ask forgiveness? There are a lot of things that could be sin. A lot of grey areas too. I think it probably comes down to love. Is what we’re doing coming from love. Of course it’s a little more complicated than that but simply put….

      I also think there’s a difference between a cause and reaction (You sleep with a stranger without protection, you catch something or get pregnant. You steal from someone, you go to jail. You make a bad choice with your money, you get evicted…. etc, etc….) and punishment. Usually the “punishment” is just the result of something you did. If it was completely unrelated, how would you link it back to what you did? “Oh, there was a hurricane that destroyed my house. God must be mad that I cheated on my test.” What? That’s totally just making things up in your head. :-P

      And what about James 1:13-14?

      13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
      14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.

  3. Steve

    Of course there is a list of definite sins. You can start with the Ten Commandments. The Bible is pretty clear about what sin is. Sure there may be a few grey areas but for the most part it is stated clearly. With regard to eating meat, if a person feels that eating meat is wrong, that person should not eat meat. It actually says that in the Bible. But eating meat is not a sin. There is nothing in the Bible that would indicate eating meat is a sin. However, it is a sin to be a glutton. If you see some guy that is 100 pounds overweight that is always stuffing his face with meat, that would be sinful because the Bible says you should not be a glutton.

    I think you are right that a person would not ask for forgiveness from sin if they didn’t know they were sinning. Unfortunately for that sinner, ignorance is no excuse. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that ignorance will get you off the hook. It does say that repentance will get you off the hook. Ignorance is no excuse in regular life or spiritual life. If I commit a crime, it is doubtful that the police will let me go on the grounds that I was ignorant.

    You are right that love is a big part of Christianity. That is stated over and over again. Jesus says to love God with all your heart and to love your neighbor as your self. I can often times spot a Christian without even knowing them just from their demeanor. I remember I was at a concert a few years ago and there was a guest performer that performed a few songs with the headliner. I had never heard of the guest performer before. Me and my girlfriend stuck around for a little while after the show because I was lucky enough to have backstage passes. I saw the guest performer talking with a few people after the show including his wife and kids. He was so humble and so nice and he just seemed so pure. I said to myself he has to be a Christian. When I got home, I looked him up on the internet and sure enough, it said he was a serious Christian. As it says in the Bible, you will be able to recognize fellow believers from their fruit. If you know a person who claims to be a Christian but you can’t see any difference between that person and your non-Christian friends, I would seriously question whether that person is a true Christian.

    Do you think most people who claim they are Christians are going to Heaven? I would say the answer is clearly “no”. You can’t just talk the talk. You need to also walk the walk. Jesus gave a stern warning about this. In Matthew 7:13 he said, “Not everyone who says to me “Lord, Lord”, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers.” He also says “the road to heaven is narrow and only a few will find it.” He clearly taught that the cost of following him is high, that the way is narrow and few find it. He states that very clearly. Anyone who believes otherwise will be sadly mistaken.

    To address your comments about cause and reaction, there can certainly be cause and reaction. If I have unprotected sex and I get an STD, was that from God or just was it just the natural result of what I did? I don’t know the answer to that. Does it really matter? There are certainly obvious repercussions to our behavior just based on natural principles and natural science. If I throw a ball up in the air, the ball will come down simply because of gravity. God doesn’t need to make the ball come down because it’s going to come down on its own every time.

    If I steal a woman’s purse tomorrow, and the police don’t catch me, does that mean that I got away with it? Maybe or maybe not. Maybe God will punish me in a week from now. God can punish me in any way he wants. God is not limited in his response. God is omnipotent. He can do whatever he wants. I may get a case of appendicitis. I may have a traffic accident. God can do anything he wants. You’ve heard the term “God-fearing Christian”. True Christians have a healthy fear of God because they know that God can discipline them harshly and he can do it in any possible way he pleases.

    If I do steal a woman’s purse tomorrow and then I get a terrible case of appendicitis next week, can I prove that this was God’s punishment. Of course not. I can’t prove it and I wouldn’t know for sure. But I can tell you that I have seen a clear pattern in my life of bad things happening to me within a day or two of me sinning. This hasn’t just happened once or twice. This has happened to me dozens of times. I would have to be a fool to think that it’s just a coincidence. When I am living sin-free, bad things practically never happen to me. Not only do bad things not happen to me, great things often happen to me. I’m talking about things that literally just drop into my lap that I didn’t even ask for. For example, when I was in graduate school, things were starting to get a little tight financially. I was starting to wonder how I was going to pay my bills. To make a long story short, I started making $6000 a month and I didn’t have to work a single hour. This was from a $5000 investment. Have you ever heard of a $5000 investment that pays $6000 a month? It had to do with bankrolling a card player. From that $5000 investment, I made over $72,000 over that next 12 months. Was that from God? I can’t say for sure but I can tell you that I had just prayed to God to help me with my finances. Incidentally, I was living a sin-free life at the time. By the way, I don’t steal women’s purses. My type of sin is watching pornography on the internet or having sex with a girlfriend. I try to remain celibate but I don’t do a great job. I will go 1-2 years at a time staying totally celibate but I usually end up slipping.

    That reminds me about what you said about sex and the New Testament. I think the New Testament is very clear about this topic. Jesus said that if you even fantasize about a particular woman, that is a sin. If you can’t fantasize about her, you certainly can’t have sex with her. For you to suggest otherwise would be like a boy being punished by his mother for punching his brother, and the boy complaining, “Mom, why are you punishing me? You never told me not to punch my brother. You told me not to touch him, but you didn’t say not to punch him.”

    If Jesus says not to lust after a woman, you certainly can’t have sex with a woman you aren’t married to. In addition, look what Paul says about the subject. He says that he thinks it is best to not get married and stay celibate, like him. He thinks it is easier to to do God’s work when you are not distracted by a wife and family. But he goes on to say that if you are burning with passion, then you should get married. Why does he say this? He could have simply said, “If you are burning with passion, go have sex with someone and get it out of your system.” He could have said, “Go find a girlfriend to have sex with with for a while.” There was a reason he didn’t say those things. The reason was that It was not ok to have sex with anyone except for your wife. So if a person had a really high sex drive, that person needed to get married because it was not ok to just have sex with anyone.

  4. Kendal

    I still don’t think God causes car crashes… God gives life, the devil gives death…

    Also on what Paul said… we’re adding our own interpretation to that based on how we want people to behave today… people have done that for centuries for many verses within the Bible. That’s why it still deserves a lot of study and we need to look at it with new eyes, not just through the lenses that our parents or pastors passed on to us.

    The First Epistle to the Corinthians:
    http://books.google.com/books?id=XlBp10nUTXAC&printsec=frontcover&dq=commentary+on+1+Corinthians&hl=en&sa=X&ei=njizT4T6MoqFtge-mb3cCA&ved=0CDkQ6AEwAQ#v=snippet&q=%22man%20be%20having%20his%20own%20wife%22&f=false

    A discussion in a forum, someone did the work for me. lol

    “Heb 13:4 is where the phrase “preserving the marriage-bed undefiled” comes from. Many Christians have referred me to that passage in order to show that premarital sex is a sin. However, they are simply assuming that premarital sex is something that “defiles” the marriage bed. Once someone rejects the assumptions of his pastors (as I was forced to do in my Baptist heritage) and looks only to the Scriptures and the early fathers for interpretation, that passage takes on a vastly different meaning. The only reference to someone ever “defiling the marriage bed” in Scripture is adultery (1 Chr 5:1, Gen 35:22), not premarital sex. Never once is “the bed defiled” referring premarital sex elsewhere. The belief that pre-wedding sex “defiles” marriage only comes to us from traditions that, as far as I can tell, have no origin in the original church.”
    http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php?topic=35214.0

    Eh, there’s a lot of debate out there. I doubt there’s much debate over things like murder and if that’s a sin. There are some things that are fairly obvious, some things that are cultural, some things that make sense for the time frame (how do you feel about all the other Jewish laws like not having sex with your wife while she’s having her period?). And what is marriage? If you were the only two people on an island, would you have to wait til you got off to file the paperwork and see a priest before it counts as a marriage? What if you didn’t want to involve the government in your relationships? Were Adam and Eve married? And who married their children (to… each other…)?

    The lust verse, I think was to remind them that no matter how hard they try, they will fail and need saving. Because seriously, what man can go a day if he’s around women, not looking at them lustfully? Jesus knows this is impossible. He’s saying don’t even try to be sinless. That’s not the goal. Because if you could do it on your own, you wouldn’t need Him. So here is an example of something that most all men would fail at. And that’s probably why he chose it, as an extreme example to keep them from getting too proud of themselves.

    That sounds like a great investment you made. :-) God has provided for me regularly for several years… the earlier years were better than the current years, but Google Adsense changes and I’m sure it gets tougher on everyone. But if we’re estimating how good we are on how God provides… well, since 2007 he’s provided every month to at least cover my rent, with very minimal effort on my part.

    I’ve also met very beautiful, wonderful people, shining happy people…. who weren’t Christian. I think it’s a mixed bag….

  5. Steve

    I think you have misinterpreted the meaning of the devil causing death. He doesn’t cause death by giving someone cancer or by causing a car crash. The devil causes death by tempting people into sinful behavior which causes death. If we follow God, we do what is right. If we follow the devil, we do whatever feels good, regardless of the morality of the action. If a person is tempted to rob or steal, that comes from the devil. If a person follows the devil, that person will end up in hell (unless that person finds God and truly repents and stops following the devil).

    I disagree with your assertion that Jesus is saying we should not try to be sinless. Quite to the contrary, he is saying that we should try to be sin-free. We will certainly fall short, but we should strive for perfection. We will fall short but as long as we are willing to look at ourselves and admit that we fell short, God will forgive us.

    People are always trying to twist things so that they have an excuse to sin. As I said in another post, some people don’t see the difference between living in sin vs. living Godly lives (that obviously fall short of perfection). We will all fall short of perfection but that doesn’t mean that it is fine to go out and intentionally sin. That actually comes from the devil. The devil will tell you that it is fine to sin because we are all sinners. If you want to go and break into your neighbor’s house and steal some money, that is fine because we are all sinners. That is obviously not fine and there would be no excuse for that kind of behavior.

    With regard to premarital sex, my personal opinion is that if you are engaged to the person, that would not be nearly as bad as just having sex with a boyfriend or girlfriend. The truth of the matter is that you are probably going to break up with the boyfriend or girlfriend and eventually lose touch with them. I have always stayed on good terms with ex’s and stayed in touch with them for several years but eventually we usually end up losing touch. You think that you will stay friends for life but people get busy and eventually lose touch in most cases. I guess with Facebook it is easier to stay in touch but some people aren’t on Facebook. I’m not in touch with any of my girlfriends from the 1990s. Most of them are married with kids. So what was the point of being so intimate with a person you are eventually going to lose touch with?

    With regard to your question about Adam and Eve, I really don’t know enough about the Old Testament to be able to answer that. With regard to your question about being stranded on a desert island, I think the answer to that is easy. If you were stranded with a person on a desert island and you both decided you wanted to spend the rest of your lives together, it would definitely be fine to do your own wedding ceremony and consummate the relationship. The important thing is the spirit of the law, not the letter of the law. Jesus made that clear.

    With regard to two people saying that they don’t want to get married because they don’t want to involve the government, I can’t imagine a true Christian saying this. If they have a fear of making that commitment, that is obviously just from a lack of faith. A true Christian is not going to have that lack of faith.

    It sounds like God is providing fine for you. You may not be living like a queen, but at least you are getting your bills paid and you are living your life the way you want to live it.

    By the way, God doesn’t always reward his people financially. There are many ways that God can bless us. Blessing us financially is one possible way but there are many ways he can bless us.

    You are right that there are plenty of nice and interesting people that are not Christians. But if you believe the Bible, you know that those people will not make it to heaven (unless they get saved at some later time in their life).

    • thedreamer

      I’m pretty certain that if Adam or Eve tripped and fell off a cliff before The Fall, they probably wouldn’t have died. I don’t think death was part of the perfect plan…
      I think if you follow Jesus, you follow his commandment to love one another. So from that, there’s less sin. It’s not about effort. It just comes naturally with a change of heart.

      Ouch, so would you say the same about friends? What’s the point of being intimate with a person you MAY not see regularly for the rest of your life? So we only invest in people that will be around for like, 70 years, somehow involved in our lives? Are people worth nothing? I mean, OK, so I don’t converse with my neighbours much because I usually know I’ll be moving in a few months and I know goodbyes hurt (for me), and somehow I want to stay in touch with everybody. Which is usually not possible. But then I do think…. is that a good reason not to get to know them? Really? Because saying goodbye will hurt, or I may never see them again after that? It’s not. People are in your path, and you could be just what they need in their lives, ever so briefly. Nobody knows what tomorrow brings. Nobody knows what’s “forever” and what’s not. Even married couples separate. And they really thought they’d be together forever. Anyway…. people drift apart, and together, and apart… people come and go around the earth, but we’re all connected anyway, in this holoverse we call home… You know, once my fiancé and I broke up, I didn’t really look back and think “oh, I’m so glad we waited til we were engaged to do anything…” Nope. I thought “why didn’t we just start this earlier so at least the time we had together was a little less stressful and a little more fun? Why did I do this to myself?” Yep, my regret after that was why we DIDN’T do it, rather than wishing we hadn’t done it at all in the end. And that’s about the time I started re-thinking marriage in many ways…
      So. Why do people need a ceremony to be “married”?
      And no, that’s lame, sorry…. saying you don’t want the government involved in your business is not a fear of commitment. That’s not wanting the government involved in every aspect of your life. They know how much you make, they force you to give them a chunk of it, they know where you live, they know what you do, everything about you… I don’t need their permission or their paperwork to tell me who I can “legally” be with. It pisses me off that they give benefits to couples in exchange for this violation of privacy, so if you want those benefits you have to play their game. But the things governments make you do so you’re “allowed” to be with the person you want to be with is ridiculous. It’s ridiculous that you can’t, for example, stay in the country of your significant other without the government’s permission. They don’t even care, once you do have that permission. They still reserve the right to just kick you out of the country for no good reason. I haven’t done the research, but I’m betting the government gets something big out of convincing people to get “legally” married….

      … and there are people of other religions who feel the same…. honestly, I can search and search and find things I believe are probably true, but in the end, only God knows….

  6. Steve

    I agree with you. Some church services are a show. Some pastors are totally phony. Many churches are devoid of Godly people. But there are also good churches out there with Godly people.You should look at church like anything else. If you go to a restaurant and the food is bad, do you totally quit going to restaurants? Of course not. you cross that restaurant off your list and look for a better one. You should check out different churches until you find a good one.

    If you asked God whether he prefers a Godly person who doesn’t go to church or an ungodly person who goes to church, I’m sure he would choose the Godly person who doesn’t go to church. However, those aren’t the only two choices. There is also a third choice. The third choice would be a Godly person who goes to church.

    It’s going to be very hard to live a Godly life if you never go to church and you aren’t hanging around with Christians. Who is going to keep you accountable? Who is going to correct you when are doing something that is totally ungodly and you don’t even realize it? It is easy for us to come with all kinds of excuses such as the Bible was written thousands of years ago, so that we don’t have to obey things that we find difficult to obey.

    If people are brought up right, there is no reason that they are going to have to have sex when they are 17 years old. I know plenty of girls who aren’t even that religious who were able to wait until they were in their early 20s. It’s not that hard to do. It only seems that hard to do because of the depravity of our generation. Our culture is totally messed up. We certainly shouldn’t think that something is ok just because it is accepted in our culture. If you are a Christian you are going to have to have a much higher standard than that. If you are a Christian, the standard is to follow Christ, not Miley Cyrus.

    Even for a non-Christian who doesn’t believe any of this stuff, I still think they would be much better off not sleeping around. Most people these days (including myself) usually jump into bed with a person within the first 5 or 6 dates. And they start fooling around after the first or second date. It’s a huge mistake for a number of reasons. First of all, it’s a huge distraction. You should be focusing on whether you truly have a great connection with the person and truly enjoy their company. If you start fooling around on the second date, you get so so focused on that and on wanting to have sex with the person, that you lose your objectivity about the person. Then you start having sex with the person and it might be fun for a while but after a few months you start to realize that you don’t really have that much in common with the person and it’s not a person that you want to spend the rest of your life with.

    So then you break up and you move on to the next person. That is the way most people (including myself) operate. So by the time you are 35 years old, you’ve slept with 10-20 people. Do you think that is a good thing? I think it’s a bad thing, probably more so for women than men but I think it’s bad for both. First of all, it totally desensitizes you. Sex is supposed to be such an intimate thing but if you do it with 15 different people, it’s no longer so special. When you get married, what will be so special about sex? Nothing. You will be doing the same thing with your spouse that you did with those other 15 people. In addition, you were able to walk away from those 15 people. It will make it that much easier to walk away from your spouse and get a divorce. I think that is one of the many reasons why the divorce rates are so high.

    We all do things the opposite way of how we are supposed to do them. We should get to know a person and develop a strong friendship with them. Instead most people do the opposite. They start fooling around with a person and then sleeping with them very quickly. Then they start to try to get to know the person and develop a deep friendship. They are doing it backwards. Even a non-Christian should try to do it the right way. They will be much more likely to choose a suitable mate if they do it the right way instead of doing things backwards.

    • Kendal

      Yes, I think the whole world of dating seems to be messed up and backwards. And it’s tough when so many people you know just behave like it’s normal. It’s insane to me that there are people who think that after dating (like, seeing each other only twice a week or something) for two weeks they’ve been waiting “a long time” for sex. And that teenagers think it’s a good idea. Come on guys…. you’re not mature enough to deal with it, you still live with your parents for crying out loud….

      I’m not sure if it’s why divorce rates are so high… I actually wonder what they would have been like in the past if taking a lover wasn’t the solution people turned to to save face (and keep their families together). Because that’s what they did instead of divorcing….

      I wish we had something else we can call churches. Because they aren’t churches. We are the church. We don’t have to meet in a specified tax-exempt building. God is everywhere.

      I’d like to hang out with more Christians, but I keep running into the ones that just make me think they’re crazy. lol. I do have some Christian friends, but I see them about as often as I see the non-Christian friends. I’d really like to find some people to research and discuss and discover and pray with, I’m just not sure where. So many people just seem stuck on what they were told, and go no further, you know?

      • steve

        As I said before, there are some bad churches out there. I can see why you would be somewhat down on churches if you have had some negative experiences. But I don’t understand how you came to the conclusion that all churches are bad and that you should not go to church. You say you’d like to find some people to pray with but you don’t know where. I think the best place to meet Christians to pray with is at church. That doesn’t mean you have to go every week but it would certainly be a good place to meet Christians that you could hang out with away from church. You could start your own little bible group away from church. Most churches already have some small bible groups but if you didn’t find one that you liked, you could start your own.

        It might take some time on your part to find the right church but there are certainly some good churches out there.

        There are certainly some bad people that go to church. There are plenty of hypocrites at church. But there are also a lot of really good people at church.

        I would be hard-pressed to find a good Christian that doesn’t go to church, not because going to church makes you a good Christian, but because any good Christian is going to worship God and they’re going to want to have fellowship with other Christians. It is true that you can worship God while you’re home alone. But everything we do is supposed to be for the glory of God. The main focus of a Christian’s life is supposed to be to glorify God. In other words, you are supposed to spread the word. That’s kind of hard to do if practically all of your worshipping is done at home alone. I’m sure you know the verse that says nobody lights a lamp and puts it under a basket. You put it on a lampstand so people can see the light. Nobody will be able to see the light if the lamp is under a basket.

        Anyway, I would be willing to start a little fellowship group with you but only on the condition that you would have an open mind to learning and would be willing to do some self-examination. The only way we can grow as people is by learning new things and be willing to occasionally change our opinion when we are presented with new evidence that contradicts our opinion.

        Another part of fellowship is to be willing to occasionally give and receive some constructive criticism. If you would be open to that kind of thing, we could start a little group. We could make the group both a Christian study group and also a mastermind group. Mastermind groups can be very effective at helping people to not only become their best self but to present their best self and come up with good strategies to reach their goals.

  7. thedreamer

    The strength of the wolf is in the pack.
    The strength of the pack is in the wolf.

    I get that…

    Well, there was the church I grew up in, in lil’ old Millersville, PA. Then I tried a few in L.A. til settling on Bel Air Pres for several years… then I went to the American Church in Paris for a while. Then I’d just go for visits. A visit to a French 7th Day Adventist church, and a visit to a church in Ghana… none of which made me feel like I wanted to go back to any church. They all seem to have a lot in common.

    Years ago we started a Bible study out of Bel Air… and it’s morphed over the years and still kind of exists, though I prefer it when it turns into a time when we girls can just get together and talk, because it always feels like we have the same old problems, and the Bible study doesn’t reveal anything new… I checked out another Bible study but I didn’t know they’d spend like, an hour singing, so I never went back. My problem now is that I don’t stay in one place all year round, so to start something then leave seems weird.

    You mentioned it being hard to spread the word if all your worshipping is done at home…. but don’t the people at church already know what’s up? You’re not preaching the gospel to them. They know it already. We can’t just enclose ourselves with other Christians… we’re supposed to be “in the world, but not of the world…” right? I agree knowing other Christians is helpful, it’s a good support system, but I’d like it to be deeper than sitting silently in a pew….

    I feel like so many Christians are stuck on what they’ve been taught growing up, or “traditional” translations, or whatnot… I feel like I can’t talk to many of my Christian friends, because they don’t have open minds. I used to be like that, and believe everything I was taught. I finally got to a place where I can learn about other approaches, translations, beliefs, and not immediately shut them down or say they’re absolutely wrong because it’s not what I was brought up to believe. And it feels so much more natural to be examining things in this way rather than to live in fear of everything vaguely different from the Western norm….

    If we were to start a group, how would that work online?

    • Steve

      You raise a good point about preaching the gospel to other Christians at church as compared to preaching the gospel to non-Christians. I think it is important to do both. There are plenty of people that go to church regularly who really don’t get it. These people need help and support. I think many of these people learn just as much (if not more) from their friends at church as they learn from the weekly sermon.

      We obviously need to spread the word to non-Christians because in many cases it is the only way people will learn about it. I think many people end up becoming Christians because they learned about Christianity through a friend.

      With regard to starting a group, I didn’t mean on-line. I meant in person. We could do it anywhere. We could meet at a restaurant, a coffee place or wherever. If we get a few more people and someone wants to host it at their place, that would be fine too.

  8. Kendal

    I’ve been reading about the Krishna followers (I’m blanking on what they call themselves) and they have a point about Christians… The guy whose interviews they’ve put in this book mentions that he knows very few real Christians that keep God’s commandments. One of which is “thou shalt not kill.” They interpret this to mean kill, period. Kill nothing. If God meant just people he would have used the word “murder.” So they’re vegetarian, and they don’t understand why Christians aren’t. I do wish they would promote vegetarianism and veganism in churches. They do in the 7th Day Adventist churches.

    I enjoyed the sermons at my L.A. church for a while…. but none of them changed my life. I don’t think any sermon I’ve ever heard (and that’s a lot…) has had a big impact on my life. Maybe they’re not supposed to. I don’t know what they’re for.

    But spreading the word…. I feel like a lot of Christians think that if they get somebody to start going to church, then they’ve succeeded. And I don’t think so. I don’t really know how people become Christian, but I think it’s usually because of a personal experience they have.

    Where do you live? Like I said, I plan to be a bit of a wanderer this year…. :-)

    • steve

      I agree with you that many Christians don’t follow God’s commandments and Jesus’ teachings. Jesus even said that many people who call him Lord will never see heaven. On the other hand, there is that small percentage of Christians that truly live Godly lives and are great role models. When I look at a guy like Tim Tebow, I am really in awe. I wish I could just totally put God first the way he does.

      With regards to eating meat, I’m not sure if Jesus ate meat but I know for sure he ate fish. You remember the scene where he fed the 5,000 men with fish?

      I don’t know if we should eat meat or not but I do know that way more needs to be done to protect the welfare of animals on these farms and at these slaughterhouses. There should be very strict laws to make sure that these animals are treated humanely. The conditions are terrible at these slaughterhouses.

      Going back to the conversation about churches, I agree with you that there are people who go to church every week and yet these people really don’t change. Some of them are just going through the motions. On the other hand, some people change dramatically. I think a big part of it is whether a person really wants to change. What percentage of people are truly willing to put God first? I think the percentage is very small. I think the vast majority of people (myself included) want to reap the benefits (have God reward them) without having to make any big sacrifices.

      I live in Westwood. If you are going to travel this year, that is fine. If we have a little informal group, you can come whenever you’re available. You wouldn’t have to commit to anything long-term.

      • thedreamer

        Yeah… I was talking to a girl yesterday who mentioned having met someone in church (I don’t know if she still goes) and I was thinking “you go to church?!” because she was so negative and kinda disrespectful (not to me though).

        I do remember the fish… but did he eat any? I think, also, it may depend on the situation. If you’re starving or there isn’t much else to eat, you have to do what’s necessary to survive. Like… the Native Americans… at least they said thank you to the animal for its life. We don’t do that.

        Well let me know if you start a group! I think I have a contact page here, for emails… lol

        • steve

          I’ll let you know if I decide to start having some Bible studies.

          Going back to something we were discussing before, God definitely punishes and disciplines people. It is all over the Bible, both in the old and new testaments.

          I’ll give you a few Verses. In Thessalonians 4:6 (new testament), Paul is discussing sexual immorality. He says, “The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you.”

          In Revealtion 2:22 (new testament) Jesus says, “I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer immensely, unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.”

          In Revelation 3:19 (new testament) Jesus says, “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.”

          It is crazy to deny that God disciplines his children. I don’t know of any decent parent that doesn’t discipline their children.

          One of the main ways God communicates with his people is through discipline. If we are not looking for his discipline and we think bad things that happen to us are simply random, we will be missing a great deal of God’s communication with us. When God wants to communicate with us, it is rare that he comes down and appears before us. He will usually communicate to us by making things (both good and bad) happen in our lives.

          I have actually known a few Christians that somehow believed that God never disciplines people. This was shocking to me because the Bible is so clear about this. Needless to say, these people have not grown at all spiritually (or in any other areas of their life for that matter) and I have known these people for over 15 years. These people’s lives just remain stagnant. They’re having all the same problems now that they were having 15 years ago. And they can’t figure out why God doesn’t seem to answer their prayers.

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