Category Archives: rants

My Unpopular Opinion

So for one of my missions trips, I received a big ‘ol package of preparation material and such. I haven’t really thoroughly explored it until recently, and when I did, I noticed a prayer journal they encourage you to use to “ignite” your prayer life. So I opened it up and started looking through it.

Week One, Day One- Time With God

“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6)

Okay, cool. Good verse. Talks about being honest and real when you’re praying to God, and not to be showing off or whatever for the people around you, because this is contrasting to the hypocrites mentioned in the previous verse. Then I keep going.

Jesus didn’t mean that we must go into a room and shut the door. He did not do that when He prayed. But He did find ways to be alone with God, and that’s what He is telling us to do today.

Oh. Really? That’s what the Bible’s saying right there? Ummm, so what about in Matthew 6:5, where Jesus says to not be like the hypocrites, who love to pray to be seen by men? Is the solution really to just be alone with God? This passage isn’t about necessity of praying when you’re alone, it’s about the perspective one needs to have when engaging in prayer. Prayer is a conversation with God, whether in a group setting or by yourself. But prayer is about God, not about you. That’s what the verse is saying.

So I skip down to the journal part of the devotion, and the first question goes like this:

What does my heart sense God is saying to me?

When I see this question, I picture myself when I was younger, closing my eyes and concentrating as hard as I could to try to hear what God was saying. I would try to keep my mind as blank as possible, warding off any possible distracting thoughts, and I would curse Satan when he wouldn’t let me hear what God was trying to tell me. I eventually figured out there was something wrong with that.

My beef is with the idea of needing to ask the question. If God is saying something, your heart doesn’t need to be uber spiritual at the time. You don’t need to be prostrate and fervently praying before God to be able to “sense” God saying something to you.

Exhibit A: Numbers 22. Balaam and his donkey. If you recall the story, Balaam was pretty much blind to God. But God had something to say to him anyway. And God made sure that Balaam heard it and followed it.

Exhibit B: The book of Jonah. This time Jonah was vehemently opposed to doing what God said, but God got through to him anyway.

And take into account every true prophet in the Bible. They didn’t give a message saying, “This is what I sensed God was saying to my heart.” They would know beyond a shadow of a DOUBT what God was saying, and they didn’t need to even ask the QUESTION! God just said what needed to be said, and nobody had any question about whether it was God or not. Why would it be different for us?

I do think there’s a good reason why that question is so popular though, and I may blog on that next (I’ll give you a hint, I think it actually is productive, but not in the way people mean it or take it). However, right now I have Bible verses and a testimony to memorize, and I need to train my evangicube skills. So I need to go do that. But I’m doing prelim forming of the next blog post in my head already, so expect that sometime in the next week. It’ll also likely be a long one.

So yeah. Discussion is definitely encouraged; in writing this rather strongly weighted opinion, I don’t want to discourage other perspectives, so discuss away!

(Btw, here’s the next blog post in the series.)


Effective Edition

“I actually also have a private blog, to rant. Y’know, writers always edit themselves in public, even when ranting.”

“Yes, I completely agree,” I answered the fellow blogger.

Then that crazy thing of my brain thinking about random offhand comments started to kick in about 6.28 hours later (approximately. That’s approximately 6 hours, 16 minutes, and 48 seconds for those of you doing the math at home.)

Yes, writers ALWAYS edit themselves in terms of tone or message. I know I do. But why? And is it damaging to the point we’re trying to make as writers or bloggers?

Obviously, editing is mainly for the reader. When I sit down to write about a topic I’m angry about, the first result is not something that the reader would probably want to read. When I write about something when I’m angry, I tend to go all over the place; I stop at many different points all out of order. I also will usually overstate my point (sometimes illogically), because I’m trying to emphasize a point. It will likely be offensive to someone as well, largely because of the previous statement. And occasionally I’ll just get frustrated and start banging my fists on the sanflkuenlaewnyfzboard. But not often.

So yeah, first result for me when writing angrily will usually consist of incoherence from random point-making, overstatement that will actually make me look like an idiot for illogical claims therein, and will also probably offend someone in a way I don’t want to.

Generally, that will turn off a reader. Nobody wants to read how angry you are unless they agree with you. So we edit.

Now when I edit one of those posts, it usually takes awhile, mainly because I have to rewrite the whole thing, using bits and pieces of the original draft and organizing the points into an easier to read format. I also have to remove any points that are illogical, because I try to be intellectually honest like that. Plus people will get all up on my case if I do make an argument that’s not justified, which I’m quite happy they do. And after that’s done, usually it’s quite harder for someone to get offended in a way that I don’t want them to be. But if there IS anything else after that that may hinder the effectiveness of my point, I try to reword it as well.

So after thinking out loud there for a couple paragraphs, I have come up with an answer to my question. I personally edit so that my point ISN’T damaged by the forceful nature of the original words in my post. I edit so that my point is better received by the reader. Because ultimately the goal in writing is to not only express oneself, but also to convey one’s point in an effective manner to the reader.

Currently listening to: The Circuitry Citadel by Tettix (Full album download)

Let’s just get controversial, shall we?

There are many people that might say that God has picked one person for you to marry.

I want to know where people get that idea.

Where in the Bible does it say God has picked your husband or bride for you, and you have to be on the alert constantly for clues as to who it is?

I can see how the concept might appeal to some people. It can be taken as a very romantic sentiment, that he/she is the only one for you, that this marriage was chosen in heaven, that there can be no possible other. Maybe it can give people a sense that there’s much less possibility for conflict or divorce, since if it was chosen by God, how can it fall apart? Which of course lulls them into a false sense of instability, and making it likely for them to be eaten by a grue.

So let me tell you what I think, since this IS my blog, after all. I believe we have a choice, as we have the ability to choose a career, or choose which car to get. However, I think we need to operate under the will of God, and what I mean by that is the moral will of God that he has laid out in the Bible. I don’t think God has said that he will pick out our spouses FOR us, dropping them into our laps, so to speak. But he does give requirements and guidelines in terms of choosing a spouse, the first and most notable being that they need to be a Christian. But that’s our choice, to either be in God’s moral will in that sense, or not to be. God won’t necessarily plunk us in front of our future spouse and say, “Hey! You guys should be married, go find a pastor already!” Not saying that’s out of the question, just that it shouldn’t be expected.

“But Derek, that’s so unromantic,” I can imagine you saying. “MY significant other is definitely the ONLY one I could ever love so much that it makes my face slightly sore from the love that is shown in my eyes and sloppy kisses!”

Bleh, first off.

Second, learn grammar.

Third, you seem to not have grasped the concept of love. Love requires a choice. Love requires effort. Love doesn’t just happen, whether inspired by God or otherwise. What’s romantic about “easy” love? What’s more romantic, CHOOSING someone, or having someone chosen for you by God, requiring little effort on your part to love that person? Isn’t it worth more when your significant other loves you because they WANT to love you? When they make sacrifices to love you because they chose you over all the other allowable candidates? That seems more romantic to me.

That’s just my appeal to the romantics, not my actual argument. My argument is that I don’t think there’s any Scripture pointing toward God choosing our spouses for us.

Feel free to interject.

Currently listening to: Super Rad! by The Aquabats (iTunes)

I really dislike churchspeak.

So you know how churches will put little one or two-liners on their signs sometimes? Well, I tend to like to pick them apart because of their inaccuracy, ineffectiveness, or churchy language. And I drove past one the other day. This one said: “People disappoint. God never will.”

Now, for a Christian, I think this works quite well, and I don’t really have many qualms about this statement because I know what they mean. God doesn’t disappoint because he will always keep the promises he has made. Always. So in that sense, God will never disappoint.

But the thing is, this sign is obviously not meant for fellow believers. This sign is meant for outreach to nonbelievers. So what does this statement mean in their view?

Well, it’s possible that they could take it in the sense that it was meant to be taken in, in that God will never break his promises. But how can a non-believer possibly be expected to understand that? If I were a non-believer, I would probably think that God was the solution to all my problems, and my life would immediately be better because God wouldn’t disappoint my expectations. Death is a good example here. Say my dad suddenly became ill, and I expected God to heal him, since God supposedly never disappoints. And then my dad dies. What would make me want to trust what that church says, and in turn, what the Bible says? My misinterpretation of a poorly conveyed Biblical truth could make me turn against Christianity just like that.

I really dislike those church signs.

Currently listening to: Afro Blue by Sasha Masakowski