I’ve often asked myself this question. It’s a legitimate concern for me because I love music and I love going to shows. I love the feeling music alone gives me, and the power of performances is like nothing else.
So in light of what happened at a concert in Manchester recently, the question popped up again: If I died at a concert, would I go to heaven?
(*Note: I’m not at all giving any kind of judgment to any of those people who lost their lives at that concert in Manchester. My heart aches when tragedies like these occur. I don’t know their lives nor their hearts, and I’m not here to sentence anyone—that’s not my job.)
I’ve gone to countless shows. I’ve even seen one band nearly 20 times alone.
Here’s the thing though.
Within the last maybe year or so, I’ve really felt my concert-going days would soon be over for me. I felt God was calling me to set my mind on things above, and going to shows was something I had to let go of. If I’m honest (though through gritted teeth), I think it’s a pretty clear conviction for me.
Though yes, I’ve tried to ignore it. There are many, many concerts I want to go to this year. If I go to one of these concerts and end up dying, what does that mean for me? Where will I end up? Would my Christian life up to that point not matter? Did I just damn myself by that one decision, that one choice to go?
Is it dangerous to do something we know we shouldn’t be doing? Where do justice, grace, and mercy come into play?
Does ignoring our convictions and rationalizing them away end up leading us to an inevitable path of destruction?
I saw her walk through the door, earbuds popped in, a smile on her face and calmness I couldn’t match. Meanwhile there I stood, hands sweating, hair pinned back, barely remembering to breathe.
I wondered, how is it that she can walk in here with such confidence? She’s probably been here longer than I have, and that would explain it…
So in passing, I asked her.
To my surprise, she’d been there just as long as I had.
What, you’re like a pro! I told her. Why is it that every time I come in here I feel like I can’t breathe until I leave!?
She’s about my age and I wish I walked around with as much assurance as she did that day.
It’s no secret, I, as well as lots of other people, am afraid of making mistakes.
I mean I really, really, really just don’t want to mess up. Sometimes in a moment of decision I end up just standing there trying to decide if I should ask for help or figure it out on my own. People probably think I’m so weird. I am, but still ;P
I want to be thorough, yet time efficient. I want to be a problem solver, yet don’t want to make mistakes. How does one find the right balance?
I guess all this comes with time, comes with learning and growing and getting older… and just doing. The more you do something, the better you get at it and the more confidence you gain.
I also never really understood how truly related experience is with age until one day it just clicked. All the people I talked to, all the stories I’ve heard and the advice given to me all came together, and it finally made sense. I find myself always trying to be on the same level of someone twice my age with twice as much experience, and that just won’t happen. I am learning to accept life as a learning process, and not beat myself up for not being who or where I think I should be, mainly in comparison to other people. The key is to keep trying and not give up, and definitely not compare myself to others.
That in itself is liberating.
I don’t want to go through life living as if its just one big competition, but I do want the kind of confidence I see in others. Confidence in my jobs, in my faith, in my abilities, in my blogging…
How do I get there, how do you get there?
Speaking of confidence, I can’t continue this post without addressing something else: confidence in one’s own beliefs.
I’ve come to the realization of just how important it is to know what I believe, to know why I am a part of something and why I want to share certain things with others. What makes what I believe so special? Why should I invite others to have similar beliefs?
Part of what has been churning inside me for months now was realizing how utterly unable I was to give reasons and answers to things for which I should have reasons and answers.
It’s one thing to say I believe in something, but another thing to explain the reasons why. That takes some effort, but it will be worth all that effort in the end.
That moment was a flashlight into my own conscience, a beacon to remind me to do some real searching that I failed to do before. It was also a reminder to put my confidence in Christ. I lost sight of that, of my Anchor. The best advice I received on this topic was this: Learn, study, find the answer. If you trust God, He will provide the way.
And I think that’s how I can gain confidence all around: trust, in God and how He has lead me thus far, and how He will continue to lead me.
As I’m writing this I’m reminded of something new I’m going to be starting next week, and I could use all the confidence (and heavenly guidance) I can get. I also need to gain confidence in my blogging, because we all know the internet is rife with cyber psychos, and I’m just waiting for my turn to get bullied.
Anyone who has read any of my blog posts already knows this.
I am very much an advocate for avoiding things that are, in my opinion, quite obvious followers of Christ need to avoid. To a lot of others (Christians included), it isn’t quite so obvious. (This goes along with what I write about in one of my previous posts.)
For example, I think people who profess Christianity should not have sex before marriage, should not gamble, and should not partake in alcoholic beverages, regardless of the amount.
But that’s just it, is it my opinion, or is there biblical evidence to support why Christians should avoid certain things? (Phil.4:8 and 1 Cor. 10:31 are usually the starting points.)
Yeah, I know the Bible doesn’t actually say thou shalt not gamble, but the principles of good stewardship (how to handle and how not to handle our money) are definitely there.
Anyway, I don’t know how many times I’ve had to tell people, “No, I won’t watch that movie because it’s about this, that, or the other” without having to answer to, “Well why does that matter?“
Look, I am by no means perfect. I don’t have all the answers. I am still learning (and will always be learning) on this spiritual journey I am on.
But I have just have to address this topic. What things in my life have I made “other gods” before my God?
Contrary to popular belief, the “gods” in the first commandment do not only involve idolatry over statues or carved images, but involve whatever other things we put primary in our lives.
Before I really started becoming serious about my walk with God, I never spent time reading, praying, or anything spiritual during the week. One day a week for church was good enough. I put everything else before God. I would stand in line all day just to see a band I liked, I would wake up early to score some tickets to a concert, I would put friends, boyfriends, entertainment, school, and even family before God (family is always a touchy one).
Basically, I always put myself and what I wanted before God. I never sought His counsel before making any decision.
But then I heard this: Giving the gospel to the world in this generation is our ultimate goal and purpose in the Christian’s life.
And I learned to ask myself this question: What am I doing in my life that is causing reading the Bible and other good things (attending church, witnessing/evangelizing, going to a Bible study,etc.) to be boring?
It’s all those things I listed and more. It’s all those things in my life I put before God.
Matthew 7:21-23 talks about people who profess to be followers of Christ but do not do what He commands us to do. Are we living a life like this, a Christian life where Christ will say to us, “I knew you not?”
I know what some of you might be thinking…this is too extreme. You’re being too extreme. Christ died so we don’t have to worry about any of this.
Let me just say, that is completely false. Read 1 Peter and 1 Thessalonians for what people following Christ should expect in their Christian walk.
There are plenty of people in the Bible who did some pretty “extreme” things because God commanded them to (e.g., Noah, Abraham, Moses, just to name a few).
So let me ask you this: Is doing what God asks you to do, what He asks each and every one of His people to do, really too extreme?
“Their sorrows shall be multiplied who hasten after another god…”
That’s really the point of this post. Are there things in my life that I am serving instead of God? Is Christ the supreme love of my life? Am I willing to give up the things He knows are bad for me, things that take away my focus from Him?
The beautiful promise He gives us is that no matter what our habits are and no matter how much we struggle with them, He will provide a way for us to overcome. Habits are hard to break, and the guilt from them is often overpowering.
But guilt is meant to be momentary,not chronic.
“Let these despondent ones look up, the Savior is bending over the purchase of His blood. Will to serve him, and in acting upon His word you will receive strength.”
What really is the driving force behind your reactions?
Sometimes does what you do seem so incredibly annoying that you wonder why you even exist? Okay, maybe you don’t take it to that extreme, but you get what I’m saying.
Why is it that we do things we know will make us look silly? Or that we know we’ll regret? Or we know will annoy this person? Or even more spectacularly, why do we do what we told ourselves not to do just a few minutes earlier? It’s like we willingly walk into it sometimes!
I’m currently reading this book where the author says time and time again that people’s rude, mean, unloving, etc. behavior doesn’t mean their intent was rude, mean, unloving, etc.
I don’t know why, but I have a hard time grasping that. How can I look past someone’s behavior without thinking their intent is what lead them to behave that way?
Well, to put things into perspective, he states plainly that not many people wake up thinking, “Hey, how can I make this person’s life miserable today?” It’s just human nature to make mistakes, and sometimes we let our emotions get the best of us.
It’s at those times when my emotions get the best of me that I would rather just go off somewhere by myself and chill out for a sec…just grab some crackers and watch some anime, and things will be okay.
Though what I really should do in those moments is pray, and definitely not mope.
I don’t want to react certain ways. But you see, what it really comes down to is pride. My pride is what makes me react certain ways. Pride is what gets people into disagreements, arguments, and full-on fights. Pride can be deadly.
People hold grudges and don’t apologize because of pride. Marriages are ruined because of pride. People turn from God because of pride.
One day I left the radio on for my cat while I got ready to leave for the day. I had to scan to a random station for a good signal, and it landed on what I thought was a talk show, so I left it there. But when I got home, it was playing a song that caught my attention. Its lyrics basically were about not needing Jesus because faith in oneself is enough.
Pride. Pride is what helped that person write that song.
It got me thinking, that person probably had some really bad experience(s) in their life that led them to feel this way.
The other day I came across a status update I had written a few years ago about religion. Someone had replied, saying people who step away from religion most likely had some traumatic experience. I don’t think it was coincidence that I came across that old post shortly after I heard that song.
Pride, either hurt pride or inflated pride, is what drives us to make a lot of the decisions we make, and is also what formulates the way we think.
I’m trying to decide if I should talk about something that recently happened to me right now or if I should wait for another post…
Well, let me just say this for now: Last week I read a lot about what it means to be meek.
It’s doing the right thing even when you’re wronged. It’s being kind when people aren’t kind back. Meekness is not in my character. I tend to get sassy and bratty when things don’t go my way. Well, I guess I’m kind of a mixed bag. I don’t like confrontation and often avoid it, but I equally dislike being mistreated or seeing a loved one being mistreated. I also definitely don’t like not getting my way (yes, I’m guilty). But I’ve accepted that meekness should be the dominant part of my character, because it is the exact opposite of pride. I don’t need more pride in my life. Pride is no bueno, especially in a marriage.
I feel my pride needs to take a back seat. I need to take what hurts my feelings and overlook them, or more accurately, give them to God. This is a major struggle for me and I constantly need to be praying for self to be put last. I’m not always going to get what I want or hear what I want to hear.
Also, I’m just going to come out and say it: it’s always about other people before it’s about you. Okay, okay, before you toss your stones at me, I realize there are some major exceptions. But again, this is where prayer and seeking advice comes into play, at least for me. How do I determine those exceptions?
Generally speaking, I’ve decided I want to put others’ needs before my own.
Meekness is not a sign of weakness, and pride is not a trait we should be fueling.
Meekness is a sign of maturity, at least in my book. Am I going to sit back and let someone abuse my child? No. Am I going to sit back and let someone write hate comments and tell me I’m dumb for believing in God? Yes.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
Until I talk about that thing that recently happened to me in my next post,
What substances-legal or illegal- should Christians be avoiding?
Your body is a temple.
I’ve often wondered what that means.
So, what does it mean?
I read a comment online once that read: “Your body is a temple, so do with it whatever you please.”
I was a little uneasy about that response.
Is that how we are to look at our bodies, as something we can use, abuse, and do whatever we want with?
Many people will say, yes, that is exactly what it’s for.
On the contrary, I believe something different.
With recent stories I’ve heard of people and their substance addictions, it makes me think that the “freedom” we feel we have over our bodies is really more like bondage.
Addiction, whatever it may be over, is not freedom.
And how does one get addicted? It starts with just one moment, one decision to indulge…
I believe my body belongs to God, and is not mine to do whatever I want with.
“For you (we) are the temple of the living God” (2 Cor. 6:16).
“If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are” (1 Cor. 3:17).
Now, I already know some people are thinking, “Well, this doesn’t apply to me. I’m not a believer of anything the Bible has to say. I don’t believe my body belongs to anyone but me, and I’m also not an addict.”
Well, I believe it does apply to those people too, but we won’t get into that right now.
The main thing I want to get to is this:
How do we determine which things defile our bodies?
After reading 1 Cor. 3:17, I thought, well this clearly says we are not to defile our bodies, which is the holy temple of God, so clearly I know not to indulge in drugs, alcohol, premarital/extra-marital sex, etc.
I really don’t think it is clear to a lot of people.
In fact, I heard a debate between several Christians over why it is or is not okay to drink alcoholic beverages or smoke marijuana.
And the flood gates were opened.
Now, even though those debating folks are Christians, and I’ll tell you what, they had differing opinions as far apart as the east is from the west.
It made me think that this issue really is difficult to address because it’s such a sticky topic.
How do you answer from the Bible? How do I give an answer that is more than just a personal story or personal experience?
Then there are those people who ask, “Well golly, Em, don’t you think if you’re abstaining from alcohol and drugs, then you should abstain from things like pain relievers and sugar?”
I just want to shake my fists at those folks. Other than responding (quite fervently) that those things are very different, I kind of feel like my responses are lacking.
Are they different? Should I avoid sugar the way I avoid alcohol?
So you have people who avoid alcohol and drugs, but those same people are indulging in soda, coffee, processed foods, and over the counter pain meds.
Sticky topic, right?
So, what do you do? If you are a follower of Christ, how would you respond in way that isn’t just personal or anecdotal? What’s the right thing to do?
But it would be nice wouldn’t it, to stop worrying and to have other people stop worrying?
In light of the tragic incident that happened here in San Bernardino County, CA Wednesday and in light of a conversation I had with someone, I feel the need to write about something I think we can all relate to:
I’ve always worried too much, even in my youth.
Yes, there are lots of things I worry about.
There are times when something will spark in my mind, and I’ll dwell on it until it snowballs, causing my heart to race to the point where I either start crying or completely stonewall.
I know, what a cry baby. I get caught up in the “what ifs” and it terrifies me to think of anything tragic happening to any of my loved ones. Yes, that includes my darling little kitty love (cue baby voice).
And hearing about tragedies makes me wonder how I would act or what I would do in those situations. I often find myself thinking about what I could do to prevent those things that scare me from happening, or how to be prepared, or how I would cope with loss…
A crazy thing about Wednesday’s tragedy is that it happened blocks away from where I babysit a precious little one year old every week…blocks away from where we go on our morning strolls together.
Immediately, I thought: there is no way I’m going to want to go walking now.
And I also immediately thought about how all the God-scoffers out there are probably thinking:
How can anyone believe in God when all these tragedies are happening?
But, that’s another post for another time.
Juxtaposed with worrying about what’s happening around me is the worry people have for me. They worry about my future, my plans, my career goals, how I’m going to make it in this world…
Some people believe what I’m currently doing is not what most people view as “success,” and I get that.
I don’t agree with it, but it is what it is.
If people are worried for me, especially when I feel they really don’t need to be, it stresses and bums me out, almost to the point where it wrecks part of my day (because I’m in my head a lot).
I could easily get wrapped up in worry. Worry about what others think of me, worry about who I might offend with my blog posts, worried about the nasty comments I’ll get, worry about using my education, worry about making enough money and being successful…
But who defines success?
For me, bringing someone to Christ is a success.
Most people, even Christians, don’t think that way. We all get wrapped up in worry and wrapped up in how the world defines wisdom and prosperity.
I could scream at the top of my lungs the reasons why people don’t need to worry about my current situation, but that won’t do any good.
What does good, at least for me, is what God has to say.
There is so much beauty in God’s promises, justice, and love.
In times of great stress, great kings turned to God. In times of great loss, humble men turned to God. In times of persecution, the apostles turned to God.
On the cross, Christ turned to God.
Fret not, trust, be still and know…
that God is God.
I believe He has a plan for me, and I believe I’m in the exact place He wants me to be right now. I just have to commit and be patient, no matter what people say or think.
My vision of success is not your visions of success, or anyone else’s for that matter.
God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Though the earth be removed, I will not fear (Ps.46:1,2)
I could live my life in constant worry, but is that really living?
Put forth constant effort against the evils that seek mastery over you.
Oh man, with a quote (and a title) like that, where do I even start?
If I can get my fingers to stop rubbing my ultra dry and irritated nose and start typing, maybe I can formulate my thoughts better….(essential oils anyone?)
Okay. So, not long ago I gave what seemed to be casual advice to someone. The advice seemed entirely insignificant and harmless at first—it was a quick and normal response for me. Sure, I said. No big deal, I said.
Except it wasn’t harmless. And it shouldn’t have been normal either!
I didn’t realize it until after the advised action took place (before my very eyes and ears) that I had given terrible advice, and encouraged behavior completely contrary to the character I am trying to develop…