Good is not good enough.

I am one sub away from 150, guys! Whoo!

I always appreciate when people look at my stuff on days when I don’t post because it means the traffic is consistent, if you have your own blog, you know what I’m talking about.

Well, I was watching Ray Comfort today.

I know some Christians follow this blog, and if you are Christian, I recommend checking out the Living Waters YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmrVJGUS1u5-Hsm_BFS_1YA)

It’s a great way to broaden your horizons by getting to see the Gospel presented to all kinds of people, and in a gentle, non aggressive, but intelligent way. Ray uses science, reason, and emotional weight. [I was not paid to say any of this, I just like the channel and content 🙂 ]

Christians struggle with evangelism, which is a long word for going to people and telling them about Jesus.

Me, I prefer it if it comes up in conversation, especially if I can discuss science or philosophy, which many people think Christians hate doing.

A lot of Christians think evangelizing needs to be done through showing people the love of God.

I totally agree we need to be loving to people, but what Ray Comfort has highlighted for me is that we need to be doing more than that.

The trouble with the “love on people” approach that I’ve seen within the Church itself, not just with nonbelievers, is that it’s non confrontational, and it doesn’t change people’s minds.

I’ve heard many pastors reprimand their congregation for the harsh or judgmental approach.

The thing is, often people who go to Churches who preach mercy and kindness are not the ones who are judgy and harsh, those people go to Churches that preach that as the way to be. Really, my parents church shopped a lot when I was younger, I know the drill, it’s easy to find somewhere that echoes all your own behavior.

I find it singularly unhelpful to get the “just love on people” advice because it’s so vague… what am I supposed to do with that?

One of Ray’s tactics is to help people understand why they are guilty of sin.

Everyone already knows they are a sinner, but the average person will claim to be a good person, they think that they do more good than bad, or just not enough bad to warrant punishment.

Some people think they should be spared just because they have a good heart. (All things real people said, by the way.)

It’s easy to get people to admit they lie, and they’ve stolen, and they lust, sometimes that they dishonor their parents and have sex out of wedlock. People don’t even think of some of those things as wrong.

Ray never goes into the things like murder, envy, working on the Sabbath, and worshiping idols. It’s easy enough to show we do all that, but harder to prove on the spot, and the others ones people admit to faster.

I was raised christian, and i try not to lie, or steal, but I still remember getting caught stealing as a kid, just minor things my mom immediately made me return.

I don’t lie now, no directly, I’m not sure I am fully honest thought. A lot of us lie, thinking it’s the truth, but if we really looked at our thoughts and feelings, we’d know it was a lie.

Ever have someone tell you “I’m not mad” and they were so obviously about to blow a gasket?

Or “I’m not jealous” when they were.

Yeah, it’s not too hard to see we’re all guilty.

But most people, and most religions in fact, fall back on the idea that our good can outweigh our bad when we stand before God.

Ray confronts this with the point that even a human judge will not care about what you do right, you go to jail for what you do wrong.

What if a serial killer killed person after person and then donated to charity each time, and the charity saved 10 lives. Does he or she get to keep killing people just because they are saving 10 lives for every 1 they take?

Please, please tell me you didn’t have to think about that one, I’ve known philosophy groups where that would be a tough question, (Philosophy is an absolutely useless field of study without theism, as it turns out. People just argue and get nowhere).

To expound on Ray’s point, is it fair to judge people only for what they do wrong? Why is one mistake, or even several, enough to negate all the good.

There are two big misconceptions of sin in this line of thinking. But most people will understand it once it’s been pointed out to them, because deep down, we know it’s not right.

The first misconception is that our human nature can be bad and good at the same time. I will see this everywhere, from My Little Pony reviews to philosophical videos, to real people talking about everyday life. Hollywood love propagating this idea, can’t imagine why…

Is it possible to be both a bad and good person?

It’s easy to look at the bad and good actions people do, and say “they must have bad and good in them, so they are’t wicked people.”

But, it doesn’t work.

In any area of life, name one thin that can be both bad and good.

I sorted lemons yesterday, I found a bunch that had mold on them. The mold isn’t in the whole lemon, it’s just on part of it, theoretically, the lemon had good parts in it still…should I eat it?

The answer is no. Fruit is tricky, depending on the kind, but usually you cannot eat it once it’s moldy, the sugars are decomposing, even inside the part that isn’t bad looking yet, and you could get sick.

Some foods, like potatoes, the mold can be cut off and there rest of it is good, but you get less of it that way, and you still have to cut out the bad part, only a truly starving person eats a bad fruit or vegetable whole.

Another example, if you have a car that works perfectly, all except for one tire, or one thing in the engine, or the brakes, is it safe to drive? image (15)

The answer is NO.

Yet again, if a human being does lots of good and then rapes or murders one person, who would not punish them? Only someone just as bad trying to cover their own sins. Why else do evil people flock together?

The Bible takes the same approach to sin in a person. Jesus warned “a little leaven leavens the whole lump” meaning a little yeast spreads through all the dough. One sin is never the end of it. If you sin once, you’ll sin again, even if it’s not the same sin.

Jesus also said to do the cutting off thing. “If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off, it’s better to enter heaven with only one hand than to be cast into hell” (paraphrase)

Sin is like cancer, it has to be removed. Or like a broken car, replaced with a working part.

The second misconception people have, even more important, is that Sin is natural. That everyone does it, so it wouldn’t be right to have a high standard about it.

It’s true that Human Nature is sinful, so Sin is natural in that way, to man. But it doesn’t mean it’s natural as in it was intended to be that way.

Weeds are “natural” to a garden, they grow there of their own accord, and the weed is a living thing, doing what it’s programmed to do, yet it’s not the plan for the garden to have weeds in it. Some weeds choke out wheat, is it the wheat’s nature to be strangled? No.

Breaking the Law of Morality that everyone knows in their heart is something we all do, but it’s not Natural, in that it was meant to be and is fitting in ourselves to do.

You see, the reason you get punished for breaking one law, even if you keep 9 others, is that keeping the law is simply what you should have done.

You don’t get rewarded in life for doing the bare minimum. You show up to school with your own school supplies because you should, you tie your shoes, you call your mom on Mother’s Day.

You get what I’m saying? This is just average. But do less, and you’re either unprepared or downright negligent.

Fulfilling God’s law to the full is just the bare minimum of good living. There’s a lot beyond the law, like beauty, fun, and freedom, that are what God really intended Life to be about (You know that Eden means Delight? Where God meant humans to live in).

Now, as the world is today, fulfilling the law is impossible, and so is being a good person.

When we say someone is good, what we really mean is “They are someone who being good is important to, and they try, but yeah, they still do bad things”.

Bad means that they don’t even try, they just revel in being bad.

But Jesus rightly said “there is none good but God” no one but God can be the kind of Good God wants.

Even angels have fallen, God is the only being who has remained incorruptible throughout all time and outside of time. That is why evil god stories are so terrifying, if God is not good, than we are all lost.

I find the idea that God isn’t good silly, because anyone who has lived with a tyrant who tries to make everyone miserable knows the power of even one man to destroy lives, and if God was even as malevolent as man, no one would be happy, ever.

That happiness and love still exist is proof God must be good, they would never survive otherwise.

The Bible says human righteousness is “like filthy rags.”

So, the question is, now what?

I don’t consider myself a bad person.

Not because I am good. I have lots of problems. And I am not as aware of my own sins as I should be.

Like all people, I’m conceited about the level of my own sin.

But, the good news is, I don’t need to worry about it. I can do my best, but if at the end of every day I still come up short. it’s okay, because Jesus has covered it.

He has given me his righteousness, as the Words puts it, so that I am blameless before God.

That’s the gospel in a nutshell. We can’t do it, but God can.

The road to God is different for everyone. People have all kinds of issues with self worth, pride, and everything else. But the simplest way to find God is to repent and trust Jesus for salvation.

God can reveal himself many ways, but only one way do we give ourselves to Him, and that is through Jesus.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed getting my take on this angle, and until next time, stay honest–Natasha.

To Good Men.

I was watching a Reddit video the other day, it was asking men if they had ever experienced sexism. There was a lot of surprising stories.

I know men experience sexism, you just have to hang out with any average group of under-30-year-old women for long enough, you’ll hear it.

To be fair, I’ve heard male sexism from my own father, so I am not unaware it is in fact real.

Some of the comments were a little hard on women, and some described something I wouldn’t really call sexism, like expecting the man to pay for food, that’s chivalry, just like a woman should be respectful and not say certain things.

I am not saying that because I’m afraid of men and have some weird idea about submission (more on that later), but because I don’t think women get a free pass to say whatever they want about men just because men are supposedly sexist pigs (as always, the irony is that is a sexism statement.)

By and large, however, I agreed with the men. Some were not hired because company managers preferred to hire women, or were told to hire women for “diversity.” Often if the manager was a woman, she didn’t like men, but there was even a man who didn’t like hiring men… yeah, only hired young women… you can guess from there.

Well, not really sexist so much as gross in that last case.

Men don’t get preferred for child custody, even when they are clearly the more responsible parent. I even have a personal example of that, one of my cousins married a real psycho woman, who ended up in prison, that was how he finally got custody, if I’m not mistaken, and she had two kids. When I knew her she wasn’t as insane, but she was not a good mom. I could see that (and I was a teenager).

So, needless to say, I believe these stories. The most horrifying ones is where fathers get the police called on them for being with their own kids at a playground, just being responsible. And get comments that they are just “giving mommy a break.” Even when they are the one who spends more time taking care of the kids.

Men just do not get enough credit, yeah, I said it.

I don’t care if women want to work the same jobs as men, I want to be able to do things like that, but it’s not like it’s some kind of special achievement to be woman and work a job that men usually do, not now that it’s common. Even before, isn’t it just a necessity to work?

Look at it this way, do you think men deserve kudos for being actors, dancers, painters, chefs, and teachers? Things now seen as more natural for women (most of my drama group participants were girls, no matter what group it was.) Their work might deserve credit, but do they get credit just for being men in a field dominated by women, or at least gay men, according to the stereotype.

Some people might, but most won’t think men deserve credit because of their gender.

I don’t see how it’s any different for a woman. I want to be proud of what I do because it’s worth doing, not because it’s something not a lot of women do, and that’s rare now.

I felt like dedicating this post to all the men out there who are doing a good job with their families, who are trying to work hard, and value quality over a meaningless diversity.

I’d like to give a shout out to the fathers I know at my church who are involved in their kid’s lives and take care of them. Who adopted kids when they couldn’t have any, and chose one girl no one else wanted who didn’t even speak English.

To the pastors who go out of their way to take care of people in the congregation and outside it. Who aren’t too good to work in food distribution alongside us laymen.

To the men who volunteer in children’s ministry and play music and teach classes and assist us ladies in our class.

To the male preschool teacher I know.

To the guy who mows our lawn sometimes without us asking for it (I’ve actually seen this in more than one neighborhood.)

To my grandpa who paid for my braces.

I do not take you all for granted.

Funny, because as a woman with a bad dad, I am supposed to hate men. I grew up being picked on by my dad, but I never hated boys, I thought they were fun, I still do.

Guys can be more forgiving of my loud, opinionated personality type than girls can. Just the way it is. Which defies the stereotype of men not liking women to have a mind of their own.

I’ve had issues with a lot of men in my life, but they were all of a certain type, generally kind of sexist, or at leas prideful. There’s always been men I got along with fine, from childhood up, and I don’t see any reason to put all of them in the same box any more than I’d put all women in that box.

Geez, it’s like you can’t even like men anymore, in public. Women who support male politicians get torn to shreds by other women. Women who think feminism is completely out of control.

Hey, I got flack for supporting the bible at church, and what it said about men and women.

A note on that for anyone who might wonder if I really believe women should submit to men.

  1. I think it’s talking about wives and husbands, in the greek those words are the same as man and woman.
  2. I think, like modesty, submission is going to look different depending on your culture. In the USA, women can be very independent, and men ought to understand the kind of person they are marrying, as well as the demands of our society; a woman can’t usually rely on a man in Western Culture because it’s set up so that everyone has to work and make decisions on a daily basis without consulting their spouse on every occasion. I think in a culture where women were mostly solely dependent on men, the men had more of a right to make decisions about stuff they knew more about, but the Bible doesn’t teach that women have to agree with men, or do anything they think is wrong, or that they cannot correct men on something if they are wrong, just that they need to do it with grace, as with anyone else, and with patience.

Furthermore, I think the submission question misses two things, one, if any man is demanding submission, he already had an attitude problem, unless the woman is acting totally childish about something and anyone would have to stop her.

The other thing is that we are also told to submit to one another, meaning we need to put other people’s preferences first most of the time. A good marriage will mean both people want to do that, and we get the classic give and take that we all go gaga for in fiction.

But in the event that doesn’t happen, at least one person needs to be doing it, the one who claims to know God. A lot of times, that’s the woman.

If I was to add a third, I think that submission does not mean a wife cannot disagree, and argue with her husband. I’ve heard the submission card thrown around as a way to silence opposition period. It really means that when no one can agree, someone has to decide. And a husband can certainly just yield to his wife if he wants to, and many do, a lot. It’s kind of unfair now how often men are expected to cave in to whatever their girlfriends want, and many women feel no such need for their boyfriends.

I’ve seen it work both ways, can we just agree that selfishness in just bad in general, and that in both genders.

Well, time to wrap this up.

So, I like men. I don’t like all of them, all the time, but I like the kind of people they can be, and sometimes they are better at certain qualities I admire than the girls I know.  I am actually glad to know better men than my father, because it gives me something else to use as a standard.

It could be easy to start suspecting all men are secretly jerks at home, but you really just need to listen to their wives and kids closely enough, and you’ll know.

Anyway, big thank you to all the good guys out there, and the women who appreciate them, and until next time–Natasha.

 

 

 

Ministering and the Mobile Home Park.

Okay, okay, I won’t write about the Virus anymore. I hope.

I haven’t looked (because I don’t care) but I bet that’s the main subject of a ton of the blogs on this domain right now.

I like that a lot of the YouTubers I follow are choosing to still try to make their videos and keep it regular. Trying to brighten people’s day a little. I will say my blog traffic is increasing.

I’d rather not get traffic because of an epidemic, but maybe people will find it uplifting.

I have another story for you today.

My church is continuing with their efforts at helping. My pastor keeps saying he wants it to be like the book of Acts, getting out there and ministering to people on the street, at their homes, the old fashioned way. Thinking of creative ways to have service and stay connected.

images (2)

So, today we went to the mobile home park behind our church to take people emergency food and give them a flier to call us if they needed anything else. Also writing down their needs and offering to pray for them. They were seniors, the high risk people, so we wore gloves, and someone had graciously donated masks.

Image result for image for mobile home park

I cant help but feel being part of a big church at a time like this has its perks. My church has a network of people who communicate to supply things. I kind of took that for granted before, but we’re probably still functioning because of that. Many churches are just shut down entirely.

I wonder how other religious institutions are doing. I wouldn’t have any way to know except Googling it.

Some people were scared to come outside and take stuff from us. Others came right out and smiled. Some told us they didn’t need it, they had enough. Others that they did need it and other stuff. Some said they’d just been praying and doing devotionals themselves this morning. There were a lot of Christians… I mean, I guess if you live behind a church, might as well be christian. (I don’t think that has anything to do with it really, but it must make it more encouraging to drive by that every day when you leave the unit.)

We still had boxes left over because so may people said they didn’t need it and to just go on and give it to someone who did. Some were crying because they were so touched that we thought of them to do this.

It did not seem remarkable to me at the time, but I guess these are the cute stories newspapers like to cover and people like to share on social media. (Hey, go ahead if you want. I don’t mind. You don’t have to though.) I don’t really feel like my life is that unusual, but I do get to be part of things that people think sound really special.

(I wonder how the homeless people in Skid Row are doing, my previous Church takes food there every so often, I’m sure they must be at risk, hopefully the church will find a way to still help them. It’s a bit far for my current church to travel.)

People have suggested that Christians only do stuff like this to feel good about themselves for helping the less fortune, the looked down in society. At a time like this, people’s pride goes into their pocket. I bet people who wouldn’t normally accept help from strangers would take a medical mask from one now, if they could be sure it wasn’t used.

Some people may do charity and volunteer acts in order to feel righteous. I doubt it matters that much to the most desperate people, as long as their needs are getting met, why should they care? It makes a difference to your own soul, and to your coworkers, what your attitude is, but the nice thing about Charity, is if it’s a good charity, it won’t make much difference to the people receiving it. (Not that that applies to everything, prayer without true compassion is both useless and discouraging to the one who receives it.)

Honestly, I think it scares people more that they might be received well. Because then they might have to do it again, and get involved. We humans are afraid of commitment to new things, especially ones we don’t get paid for. Its like money justifies the risk in our minds, but success and changing someone’s life don’t.

Image result for image for money vs changing lives

? Goals?

Image result for image for money vs changing lives

Or is it really…

Image result for image for money vs changing lives

More about this.

Some people think that is because we are selfish, and while we are, many people are willing to be unselfish if it’s within their comfort zone of talents and time. We are more likely to hold back out of fear than straight up selfishness. Fear is selfishness more cleverly disguised.

I am not sure why we are so afraid to do good. For me, it’s the fear that I am not good myself, that I will be shown to be a fake, and will not be able to really help. It took me a long time to become self aware of that, and even longer to really start to overcome it. Now it haunts me, even though it does not necessarily stop me from acting. My sister says “I think it’s called the Flesh.”

Call it that, or the Inner Bully, or Internal Critic, whatever name you have for it. It works the same way.

Human beings feel we have some kind of price to pay in life, that we cannot be Good, or Brave, or Noble, or Heroic. We have lost that right somewhere, and living a small, cowardly life is our just desert for it.

Original Sin can explain that pretty cleanly, though it’s not a popular explanation anymore.

Maybe we no longer have the right to be Great, but the world still has a need for us to be so. It amazes me when I hear the little known stories that get passed around in books, and blogs, and articles, that not a lot pf people read, but they’re so inspiring. The best deeds may be the ones hardly anyone knows about.

What did it mean to someone? That someone cared even enough to knock on their door and give them food? Who knows? Only God.

The Bible says at the end of time, we’ll all give an account for our lives, and our works will be tested with fire. For Christians, the fire will not destroy us, even if our works burn up, because works are not why we are saved. Others will be judged according to their deeds, as well as their lack of faith. Jesus said “He who does not believe is condemned already.”

We are told we’ll be judged for something as personal as “every idle word we speak.” God looks at the heart after all.

The point is, our works may be the most important where we thought they were the least.

There is nothing wrong with famous good deeds. We need to be inspired. Sometimes whole nations need to be changed, people need to be liberated.

But the thing about small deeds, it’s hard for history to pick them apart, and try to read ulterior motives into it. Someone might assign dark motives to helping someone carry their groceries, but it’s far less likely anyone would bother to try.

Social Media has made even little deeds bigger, but the ones we still do with out cameras off and and between our vlogs, are the ones that people will remember the most, the people we did them for anyway. I can’t be the only one who immediately feels I’ve sunk in important whenever I see someone filming.

Image result for image for camera

 

This has been longer than I expected…well, in conclusion, I am still encouraging people to think about what they can be doing to help, even if it’s just calling someone, or mailing them food or supplies. Or checking in on elderly neighbors, form a healthy distance of course.

This should be our all the time, but still, times like these are when people really appreciate someone being brave enough to reach out. I tip my metaphorical hat to all of you who are already doing that.

Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard.” (Proverbs 21:13)

Until next time, stay honest and healthy–Natasha.

Fear and The Food Bank.

So, ending the first week of confinement at home for most of us around the world–the first week for my part of America, for many people this is already getting old.

Today I got to bend the rules a bit with my church and help out with their weekly Food Drive. Of course they had less people there than usual, my sister and I had never helped out before, but we felt they would need the extra hands–my real reason was to get out of the house and be around other people for a while.

Image result for image of food bank

 

Image result for image of food bank

So after 3 hours of stuffing food into bags, not sitting down, and carrying boxes and dishes around, I was ready to go home and put my feet up.

The talk at the event was a bit concerned. The people who come in for food are low income, or homeless. They are the most at risk of getting sick, as one person in charge explained to us. We had to wear masks if we were going to interact with them. Someone donated the masks and the gloves we wore, form what I heard. Or someone was lucky enough to find them, since those things are getting sold out everywhere.

But more than worrying about infecting anyone, the helpers were worried about whether we can have this in the following month. Without it some of these people might not get food at all, a lot of food banks are closing because everything is getting bought out so quickly. My grandma could only buy one bag of bread this morning. She was lucky there was even any left.

However, my family is not at risk of starving any time soon. If we were homeless, without access to a kitchen or pantry, that would be different.

My family has been on the brink of poverty plenty of times. Having a small business meant job security depends on the public demand of a small ring of customers. It’s not like widely known department stores that people know to search at. We had to move because we couldn’t pay rent anymore. If we hadn’t had a relative who would take us in, my dad said we could end up in a tent on the field. My dad was rather melodramatic. WE have plenty of friends who would probably help us out before that happened.

What goes around, comes around. We’ve let people stay at our house too when they didn’t have anywhere. Never for very long, but still.

I don’t like being so dependent, but am I glad that we have somewhere. Especially now that my dad’s income is not supporting us. My mom has gotten a 2nd job, so that will help we hope. But if we didn’t live here for free, we couldn’t make it.

All this to say, I’m hovering on the edge of the lower class here, though no one would think so to look at me. Looks can be deceiving. But there’s still so many people worse off. On top of that, they have to worry about catching cold and not being able to shower.

I guess what bothers me is this mass panic over the virus is so selfish.

People are buying up supplies who don’t really need it. Rushing in to get more. They don’t realize that stores donate food to charities, or people go to stores to get food to donate, and that goes to people who cannot afford it themselves. Who can’t even get it by going to a charity, if the charities are closing.

My church is afraid to close because so many places near it are closed that the people would have no where else to go. So we still had our event. We’re hoping to have it again next week. Hopefully through the rest of the crisis.

The Virus is terrible,  I get that. I maybe don’t get it as well because I haven’t seen it in action. Part of the reason it’s so devastating is that it’s new, and people don’t have immunity built up to it yet. In a few years, it’s likely to be a smaller problem. hopefully by next year, even.

It’s scary, sure. But it’s not the apocalypse.

It amazes me how scared people can get. It’s like we’re trained to react this way.

Though generations of books and movies about the end of the world and a post-apocalyptic world probably aren’t helping. I’ve known people who half believe in zombies and AI taking over, who see it as inevitable.

Christians know that the end of the world is inevitable. However, we’re told to walk boldly and wisely, redeeming the time because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:16).

Christians are basically paying rent for living on the planet by doing our good works. Not that we have to pay to life here, literally. We just see this body as a loan, a temporary home, meant to be used to help people with. And yes, enjoy life, because who says helping people has to be boring? It can help people a lot to just enjoy things. “A merry heart does good like a medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones” (Proverbs 17:22).  Give me an anime with my sisters when I’m feeling down over a sermon any day.

We are allowed to participate in all parts of life, as long as we keep in mind they are fleeting and our real object is God. Balances is the key.

So when we face these crisis, we are supposed to feel as if we are just returning a borrowed book to the library, or a rented car, checking out of our resort, ect. Sure, it was fun while it lasted, but if the fun part is over, or even suspended, who was surprised?

“In this world you will have trouble,” Jesus said.

Our security does not depend on the world, and the world cannot take it away. People with God’s hand on their lives tend to evade life’s threats with a seeming ease of just being unaffected.

Sometimes Christians do suffer the same diseases, money problems, and terrible crimes as other people. A lot of the time actually, but it is not the end of our lives. We have a hope, we come out of it.

Of course, we’re human. Some of us grow faint and lose courage. Jesus also said “He who endures to the end shall be saved.”

In a crisis, the difference between a Christian and a non-christian might be compared (at it’s worst) to someone dangling off a cliff by their fingers.

Image result for image for person dangling off cliff by fingers

As long as they hold on, they won’t die, but they could slip at any moment. The cliff could give way. Some jerk could even come and kick them off.

Their strength will only last so long, even without another thing happening.

But, if there was a safety net hung below them, none of that other stuff would matter in the least. Whether they fell because they were tired, or the handhold wasn’t stable, or someone else pushed them, or it was just an accident, the end result it the same and the cause no longer matters.

I guess either way that’s the case. You can survive falling, sometimes. But you never need to survive if something catches you.

That’s Christianity. Even death isn’t a failure, if heaven is the safety net you fall into.

Whether that net takes you back to the cliff of this world and its problems, or take you home to heaven, you were still saved. So why worry?

Of course, it’s scary to dangle. It’s scary to free fall even for a few seconds. Just like it’s scary to endure a crisis not knowing what your escape will be.

But, you’re still 1000 times better off than the person with no net, no fall back, relying on their own strength to keep them alive.

The world will be afraid, because it has no hope. But we do not have to be.

I just wonder, over the world, how many Christians are contributing to this scare? And how many are choosing to trust God to catch them. I know my own dad tends to make it worse, but my mom and sisters tend to try to make it better. I hope I’m on that side also.

Maybe my challenge to you is to think about which one you are. I’m not hating on you if you’re scared, it’s normal to be scared, but are you trying to stay calm even so? Or are you adding to the chaos?

That could be as simple as texting a reminder about it when you didn’t really have to, and we all know people who feed off drama and the attention people give them when they bring up bad stuff.

We never know who might be affected in the long run by us giving way to fear.

After this post, I think I’ll stop writing about the Virus unless a really important thing comes up, because it’s not worthy of all my attention, or yours.

Until next time–Natasha.

young-man-hanging-cliff-to-edge-extreme-sport-d-render-illustration-78714722

Image result for image of safety net

Anime Bondage: Fairy Tail

It’s been awhile…hey. 😁

Well, I think anime fans, sorry, weaboos, might laugh at me for using Fairy Tail as an example in this series.

I’ll admit Fairy Tail is on the lighter-hearted side, this is more about an anime trope that fairy tail introduced me to, but I’ve since realized is common.

It’s really pretty sad how common it is, and unquestioned.

For lack of a better term, I dub this trope the “I am too much of a sinner to be happy.”

In Fairy Tail, the character who fell under this trope was Jellal, who also happened to be criminally underused, and the other half of one of the better ships.

Saltiness aside, I was a bit surprised.

As someone who’s grown up on American media, and English Fairytales, I expect happy endings, pure and noble characters, and positive messages.

While anime features characters so relentlessly good they’d almost meet George MacDonald’s standard of the “common good uncommonly developed” it is a lot darker as a rule than our stories. Happy endings are hard come by and can feel rushed and incomplete compared to the rest of the story.

I started to like anime because it showed very real problems and made love and goodness the answer to them.

But I started to get frustrated the more I realized anime is incomplete also.

Here’s the skinny on Jellal if you don’t know:

Jellal is a villain in season 1, but he’s being controlled by another character. he began as a very brave, kind, and noble boy of around 8, and in a moment of weakness to hatred, was possessed by dark magic from a different villain looking for a victim.

Jellal goes on to try to kill all his old friends, and resurrect the Black wizard Zeref, causing a lot of pain and suffering along the way.

Later he survives being blown up (like you do on anime) and loses his memory. he meets his love interested again and tries to prevent a catastrophe. Then gets arrested and imprisoned. About 6 years later (time skip) he gets out and forms a group of former villains turned good guys to try to atone for their sins.

At this point he meets up with his love interest, Erza, again, and turns down her offer of a relationship and forgiveness. Telling  his new friends that for someone like him, love is out of the question. Love and happiness.

He then spends most of the show running from just that, and treating his own life as negligible. At the end he is told he should try to live to make Erza happy. We’re given a hint that he intends to do this, but it’s not shown.

Now, I’m happy it worked out in the end…but the pattern went on for a long time. It’s gone on longer on other animes. Including freaking Naruto (almost done with that finally.)

The reason I would call this attitude of self-inflicted punishment bondage is because it does not even work, even if it were acceptable.

No one ever changed themselves by punishing themselves.

I’m more concerned with how unchallenged the idea goes on anime then that it appears in the first place.

It’s even on my favorite MHA when Iida chooses to leave his hand injured until he can deserve healing.

It’s a very real struggle people have. My dad is one of them. In the past I’ve wondered about it myself, if I need to punish myself for things.

I remember it was humorously explored in one of the Anne of Green Gables books, the 7th one, Rainbow Valley. Where four children elect to bring themselves up by implementing rather creative punishments whenever they do something wrong. It does not work.

Interestingly, the Bible has strong words to say about people harming themselves, and treats the idea of self punishment as rather abhorrent.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “Don’t you know that your body is a temple that belongs to the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit, whom you received from God, lives in you. You don’t belong to yourselves. You were bought for a price. So bring glory to God in the way you use your body.”

Leviticus 19:28 “You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the Lord.”

In 1 Kings it says of the prophets of  Baal “And they cried aloud and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them.”

This worship practice is not something you’ll find God telling His people to do.

Now, we are sometimes told to repent in physical ways, dust, ashes, sackcloth, fasting, but there is no health damage in any of this.

The same applies to emotional damage. Making ourselves miserable is discouraged by the Bible.

In speaking of guilt, Paul says “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” (2 Cor 7:10).

After repenting initially, we are supposed to receive God’s forgiveness, and give up thinking about our sins.

We no longer need to be haunted by regrets.

The reason for this is that God takes even our mistakes and uses them, once we’ve repented, to bring us into more freedom. We have to take sin seriously in order to want to be free of it, true repentance is not wallowing in guilt, but acknowledging how serious sin is, then trusting that God can deliver you from it.

There are many christians haunted by regrets, but that is not biblical. Some churches have taught it because they misinterpreted the teaching of the bible…or ignored it.

In my experience, actually, it’s not the chruches fault. A christian chooses to live in regrets.

I have had, since becoming a christian, been mostly free of regrets. Early on I embraced the idea that I do not need to beat myself up anymore about my past.

Probably because I watched my dad live that way for years, and saw how little good it did, and then had to deal with him imposing that on me because we treat others how we treat ourselves.

I let my past go, I only wished he’d do the same. I still do.

And so, when it comes to the self-punishment thing, I just can’t get on board.

From a logical standpoint, nothing is really accomplished by choosing to keep yourself either injured, or emotionally empty.

One might say ” I do not deserve love.” But welcome to the human race. None of us do.

Love is not about what you deserve, it’s about what you need to be a full person.

Jellal never has much success atoning for his sins while he is doing it out of guilt, the few times he does it out of love are when it ends up working out. Contrast it to Erza, who learns earlier to start forgiving herself and living out of love, and has success after success against impossible odds because love’s power fuels her.

The bondage of guilt is one any honest human being has to face, but we do not have to stay in it. God’s forgiveness sets us free if we just ask it.

And human forgiveness is good too. Honestly, more people need to learn to accept each other’s forgiveness and quit worrying about it.

Perhaps I leaned more on the christian side for this, but I can’t separate my idea of forgiveness from my faith.

Christianity is a very free religion in that way. The only one I know of that says guilt can be completely gone, that you can no longer require punishment, and can live free and happy no matter what your past is.

Until next time, stay honest–Natasha.

Answer to what someone said.

Taking a break from my anime series in order to write a post that I felt inspired to write after reading something that popped up in my recommendations.

I don’t want to name the blog because I think it would be unfair to criticize them by name when I have not asked them, and I don’t want to be one of those people who ends up bringing down a hate storm on another social media person just because I disagree with them, publicly.

That being said, what grabbed me about this post was how strangely vague it was. It’s really a perfect example of a modern 20-30 year old’s viewpoint, as is commonly expressed in media. And, I meet college students who talk like this.

The post was discussing someone’s search for meaning, and going through school, not really taking philosophy, then studying mythology and wondering why the gods punished people for stuff they were fated to do, and how he went on to become a Marxist, and later a Romantic, that is, someone who denies that God, love, justice, beauty, are real.

He denies being a cynic, saying he appreciates them more because they are not real. And thinks that Jesus, when he was dying and felt forsaken by God, is a remarkable idea.

In the end, he almost laughs at himself for wanting to be real, when he’s made of wood. That he cannot dream himself into being human.

The last sentence of the post  declares himself Alone, and Meaningless in a dark, empty world.

(Any more and I’ll be directly quoting him.)

In all fairness, I can’t repeat it word for word, so you’re taking my summary of it as accurate, but the blogger himself admitted to basically finding meaning in nothing.

He reflects at one point about a Christian girl who once told him that God has put it into everyone’s hearts to want to know him.

He laughed it off then, but admits that it’s basically what he’s describing, but, he knows God is a lie.

After I finished reading this, I had one question: How does he know God is a lie?

This guy pretty clearly suffers from depression, I believe it’s even in other posts on his blog, so his thoughts may have a morbid tenancy anyway.

But I couldn’t help noticing that at no point in his story did he ever say he sought God personally. He asked other people about Him, and pondered the idea of God, as well as other values most people agree are real, and he found them unbelievable, for whatever reason.

But there is no record of Him approaching God face to face and seeking revelation.

Ironically, many times when nonchristians tell me they’ve sought truth, or sought God, it ends up meaning they sought ideas about Him. Perhaps they went to church briefly, they talked to a christian…and failing to be impressed by it, they left.

Well, Christians can be bad at representing our faith, however, part of the problem with nonbelievers is that they expect something of us that we are not able to give them.

God, frankly, never makes sense to anyone who has not tried to meet Him personally.

Not because God can not be explained in a way that makes sense, but because the explanation is not enough to make you know what He is like.

I can give you the best description of my friend, till you almost feel like you know them already…and until you hear them talk, see their face, or even see their handwriting, you will still lack a true impression of their character.

The God of the Bible, distinctly unlike gods of most religions, is not high up in the clouds, or deep down in the heart of the earth, He’s not in the sun, or the planets, or the wind.

God is not in one place, He is in everyplace, one can meet him in a closet, at a beach, on a mountain top, in a bar, in an alleyway, a brothel, a prison, a church, a battlefield…anywhere at all.

It is no use to say you have sought the truth about God, and found nothing in it, unless you have spoken to God directly. From the heart.

Someone might say “If you do not believe in God, then you cannot speak to Him from the Heart.”

If you yearn for meaning, if you feel dissatisfied with how empty life is, then, you can speak to God.

If you can speak to the void, to people who will never meet you, you can speak to God.

This is the one thing no one ever wants to do. In the Bible, in Exodus, when Moses approached God on the mountain of Sinai, the people begged him to talk to God for them, they said if they tried to, they would die.

Moses, in contrast, begged God to let him see His glory.

Was it really so impossible for the people?I wonder.

There is no record in the Bible of anyone ever praying to God sincerely, one on one, and not getting some kind of answer, even it it took awhile.

What there is a record of is God lamenting constantly that people do not seek him. He promises if He is sought, He will be found, if we seek with all our heart.

I will say, God is not found by anyone who is looking for him like one might look for a free show.

People who search for God flippantly, with the attitude that if He is not exactly what they want, they will bail, are unlikely to find anything.

I do not know this blogger well enough to say for certain why He has not found God, he seemed quite close, in some ways.

But, if I went just by what he said, as an idea, then my answer would be this: He did not find God because He did not seek him one on one.

It’s the simplest thing in the world to pray, yet, people are scared to death of it. It feels like such a commitment.

It’s funny too, since, no one else will ever know if you pray alone in your room, even in your head, but it still feels huge.

I may make someone angry by claiming that atheists are just too afraid to seek God, and I do understand that some of them have other reasons besides this…

…but, by and large, the people who hold the belief that all of life is meaningless are cowards. They believe that because they are afraid to believe it has meaning, because the meaning might be something they cannot handle. And if God could direct the meaning for them, they fear He will direct it a way they don’t like.

The meaning I even give to these people themselves is because I believe life has meaning, they ask that I listen to them, that I care, but deny the reason why I should. The honest ones admit that, but fail to see how the fact that they even care would in itself prove life has meaning.

You can’t want something that does not exist, you have a hunger because there is a food for it. You thirst because water exists. You feel pain because nerve endings are real.

You can’t ache inside without there being a balm for it.

This has run long, so I am going to end this post with this:

I don’t think this blogger will read my answer, and, I am not sure it would help him if he did, unless he could face his fears and look at God for himself.

But to me, it’s so beautifully simple. When I struggled with those feelings myself, the solution came when I spoke to God directly and surrendered to him.

That has no meaning to someone who despises that approach, thinks it’s too simple…Well, to that, all I will say for now is I don’t see much happiness in thinking the other way.

Until next time–Natasha.