a letter to women

May 2, 2012

Dear women, for so long, I have felt enslaved to the way I am allowed to see you. The world tells me you are objects, and the Church often tells me, you are man’s helpmate. I have decided I will not see you as objects, nor will I see you as man’s helpmate. I have made a covenant with my heart, to see you as Jesus does.

I write to you, trusting you know your value is not found in physical beauty or sex appeal. I have to confess, it’s not this view of you that is hardest for me to resist, it’s something more hidden and hardly given attention to. As a man, I know I lack something essential. Something so essential I will die if I don’t get it. Something a “helpmate” is incapable of giving me. I know that I have a longing for intimacy that must be met by someone who is like me, yet different from me. It’s hard to admit I cannot find this intimacy alone. I cannot even find it by gaining more knowledge of God. It’s scary to me, that a woman should know this about me, and could potentially use it against me. It’s hard to view you like Jesus does, because it involves repentance.

I started seeing the spiritual parallel with all of this about two years ago. I was confronted with a question: “have you ever worshipped the Holy Spirit?”. I have never felt so strange in my life. I felt embarrassed in my heart. Before my head could get control of things, my heart said “I don’t worship a helper, I worship Jesus who is strong and mighty”. I realized that night, my definition of helper was much different than God’s, and that my craving for intimacy with Jesus can only be met through the Holy Spirit. I felt God’s presence for the first time that night.

When Jesus talks about the Holy Spirit, the language is very similar to the way God talks about you. Jesus said the father would give us an advocate to be with us forever. Just as God did not leave Adam alone and gave him Eve, an advocate, so Jesus promised to be with us by the Holy Spirit. He promised he would not leave us as orphans, because it is not good for us to be alone.

I do not believe God gave Eve to Adam so she could serve him and make him happy, just as I do not believe Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit to serve us and make us happy. I believe God gave us part of himself, and your heart tells of that. I’m learning that being in the image of God is so much more than a visualization. You are a creation of God, having DNA of God himself. You are worth fighting for because your heart contains the secrets of God, secrets that hold the freedom Christ came for. Freedom to glorify God by enjoying him forever.

My experience growing up in church was one of men (including myself) failing in leadership. Women were subtly treated as the lesser part of humanity. We gave you “behind the scenes” roles that were supposed to be important. I remember being taught how a biblical woman should act: predictable, passive, and always submissive. Sometimes it was subtle, but honestly, sometimes it wasn’t.

There are still churches and groups of Christians today that tell of this failure. To some degree, we tend to treat the Holy Spirit as the lesser part of God. We say he is an equal part of the trinity, worthy of our heart, yet we teach he is an “it”, fearing an untamed relationship with Jesus. Taken to the extreme, we have reduced the Holy Spirit of God to being a seal, just a security receipt of salvation to make us feel secure. We’ve tried to make God submissive to man. When the power that rose Christ from the dead is suppressed, churches become hollow. I suppressed your true heart and it made me hollow. I saw the intimacy of God inside you, and instead of agreeing to it and protecting it, I was like a little boy, scared to death. This is not what it means to be child like.

Hear me as a man, not gossiping about the Church, but trying to speak the truth in love. I am coming alongside you in agreement, moving toward what God has already been doing. Your heart has been teaching me truths that are freeing to my own heart as a man. Your heart carries the heart of God in a unique way, a way that is needed for the body of Christ to function as it was meant to. Your desire for more intimacy with God is not wrong or arrogant, it is balancing and powerful. It tells of God’s unique ability to completely satisfy us with his presence. 

I cherish the image of God that you bear.  By your heart, I am encouraged to relate to God, not just talk at him. The more of your heart that is revealed to me, the more I am compelled into intimacy with God. I feel as if the pure truths of your heart are absolutely essential to man’s craving for intimacy with God. The more I am convinced of this, the more strength I feel. I will fight for your heart because it is the very heart of God. To me, the greatest freedom to fight for in this life, is the freedom that comes from the heart of a woman.
Love, Andy.

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Jesus as master, friend, and lover

January 25, 2012

My scattered thoughts about Jesus.

How do you see God?

God is revealed to us in many different ways. Every Christian acknowledges Jesus as Lord. Jesus also calls us friend. Again, there are countless references to Christians being the bride of Christ.

Which one do we choose?

Is one more right than another?

For me personally, God has taken me through a process. I have never had much trouble seeing God as my father and as master. Growing up, what my dad said was the law. I was taught that God was to be respected just like my dad. I have had times of misunderstanding with my dad that impacted me in a big way, but overall, my dad has been someone I look up to. He is easy to respect. By grace, I have always had a deep respect for God’s word and his commands.

I started seeing Jesus as friend when I found myself feeling very alone. He did not reveal himself to me in a way that was opposed to my fatherly view of God, he was just giving me more of himself. He came to me as a friend, not to encourage prideful thoughts of why I was alone, but loving words that actually did something. A part of me wanted a friend to hear my self-righteous reasons for why I was alone. Reasons like “There just doesn’t seem to be anyone else who cares about living a holy life for Jesus”. Instead of gratifying this misguided desire of my heart, he spoke purpose to my life. He whispered comfort to me. I started learning friendship with Jesus involves talking with him, not just to him. I learned so much about Jesus and found peace in a season of more solitude than I was used to. I started sharing my secrets with God, and he started sharing his secrets with me.

This lead to the most mysterious and amazing part of Jesus I have discovered. Jesus as lover of my soul. It was this part of God that was met with most resistance. My background did not involve this type of language for God. How is a man supposed to relate to something like that? Because of my respect for Jesus as Lord, and my desire to be loyal and kind like a friend, I decided to yield more of my mind to Jesus. I started noticing God speaking to me more personally. It was the Holy Spirit I never knew. As I spent more time with him alone, I saw God was again, giving me more of himself. As he gave me more of himself, I noticed I gave him more of myself out of some reaction. It seemed the only appropriate response to such a thing. I felt alive for maybe the first time ever. God was speaking to me and it was real. I was so overwhelmed with joy that looking back, I probably seemed crazy at times.

I want my life to be this way forever. A journey of knowing Jesus more as master, friend, and lover, falling more in love each time. I don’t want my life to be like this because of some divine revelation God gave me in the woods or something spectacular. God spoke this to me in the most practical way ever, relationship. Recently, I had the opportunity to write again for my friend Lauren and her site goodwomenproject.com. This stirred up the most inspiration I’ve had in a long time. The topic was: letters from men to women.

My heart for women is not a separate topic or just thoughts and opinions I have, it is woven into the fabric of my testimony. That saying, about being changed from the inside out, is true. It wasn’t until I met someone who was truly passionate about purity that I realized this work of grace inside me. After being single for over 3 years, I met a girl who I found myself pursuing. She required something of me that I could not produce, it just had to be there. She had been hurt by pornography in such a way, she was not going to be with someone who viewed it. I knew it had been a while since I last looked, and when I traced it back, I realized it had been over 2 years. This shocked me probably as much as it did her. I was presented with a situation that made me look at grace. I had been hiding God’s grace, worried about making other men feel bad and looking prideful. I finally felt free to boldly accept Christ’s faithfulness personally.

Even now I struggle with hiding Christ’s faithfulness in my life at the expense of my own fear of what people think of me. By sheer grace, It’s now been over 4 years since I have looked at pornography. I always want to go back to that place of being so in love with God, it’s ok if I don’t always seem normal and cool. Life is more free that way.

This freedom allowed me to see the work of the Holy Spirit more clearly. As Jesus became more than just master and friend, my heart was validated so much, I stopped seeking it in pornography. In my relationship with this amazing woman of God, I continually find myself looking God in the face, weeping because of his goodness to me. Seeing Jesus more holistically has enabled me to love her more purely and allowed me to see so much of God through her heart as a woman.

I hope you read my post on the good women project, it is as much of my heart as I could put in a short letter. Both letters I wrote for the good women project were inspired by my girlfriend Emily. God is showing all of us great things and extending an amazing invitation to intimacy with himself. Take some time to slow down and quiet yourself, to be fully alone. You will hear the invitation from God. It may be him calling you out of loneliness, doubt, depression, or into solitude with him. God is always passionately pursuing us, we just have to stop running with our hands clasped over our ears.


emotional freedom

December 15, 2011

There is almost nothing more needed in the Church today, than authentic emotional freedom. We as Christians believe deception and partial truths, and it is killing our joy and sense of purpose in life. When we truly believe something about ourselves, it impacts every area of our life. There is truth to be discovered, lies to be called out, and redemption to hope in. It’s unrealistic to discuss the entire spectrum of emotion all at once, so I will discuss what I feel relevant and practical.

The wounding of repressed feelings and emotions is often easy to see in men whenever the topic of crying comes up. Even the notion that men should only cry a specific amount, is far from biblical and it is a lie that many take pride in. This pride is the very thing that shoves hands into pockets during worship at a church service. It is the root of countless judgmental words spoken over the Church and its members. The truth is, there are many insincere hypocrites in churches and often, using your body in worship will make others uncomfortable. The lie is that God is unable and unwilling to redeem anyone he wishes, and he would have us hold back our reaction to his love. It reminds me of the Life House song “everything”. The chorus is “how can I stand here with you, and not be moved by you?” Being moved by God looks different for everyone, but It’s not important that we move, it’s important that we get moved. Being moved by God evokes strong emotions that we can trust with him.

Tonight, I drove 35 minutes to a friends house to drop off something he needed. The problem was, I was so busy when leaving the house, I forgot the very thing I intended to bring him. I had to drive all the way back, angry and upset, just to get something I should have remembered in the first place.
This is the Christian life. We get distracted by so many things, we forget the whole point of our destination. We have moments with God, where we feel his presence and hear his voice. Then we leave without taking him with us.
When we realize our mistake, the truth is that we messed up and acted stupid. The lie is that we are stupid. We can never forget or deny that we are a broken, unworthy, and selfish people that have been declared perfect and precious to God. To repress this, is to deny our true identity. Jesus is not currently going to the cross, waiting to see if you are worth it before he dies. He died so we can speak words declaring God’s love for his children. God’s love for us individually.

There is power in speaking out truth. It can be intimidating to profess complete dependance on God, but if it is the truth, God will hear you and answer you. If always running to God, often in tears, seems too radical, perhaps you should reevaluate the foundation of the faith you profess in your mind. Emotional freedom is not a bonus to the Christian life, it is integrated into a progressing walk with Jesus. It is a part of being more like Jesus, who invites us to submit just as he did, and experience the fulness of life and freedom in God’s presence.

“During the days of Jesus ‘life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.” -Hebrews 5:7

Jesus knew the reality of his suffering, yet he knew even more the reality of God’s goodness. Jesus would not have cried if he knew there was a chance God would not care. He knew God so well that it didn’t matter if others judged him or called him less of a man because he knew his father was so good. If Jesus prayed to the point of passionate cries and tears, how much more do we need to cry out to God? Crying out in need is a sign of weakness, that’s why it’s so honoring to God. When we cry out to God out of our need for him, we show him that we not only know it, but we feel it. Believe it or not, this is a more powerful witness to the world than making yourself appear holy.

This is being made like Jesus. Not to mechanically mimic him, but to accept his sacrifice and receive the same Holy Spirit that raised him from the dead and by which he had intimacy with the Father. Only by his strength can we resist the things that enslave us, and be truly free. By his strength, we can finally be free of ourselves and start loving as Christ loves us. This is the only hope that satisfies, everything else eventually ends in utter disappointment.


the only thing that matters

October 9, 2011

Take a moment and think about all the different issues that concern Christians. People’s perspective of Christians are often shaped over issues of homosexuality, God’s name in the pledge of allegiance, and the lack of morals in society. Although I think these are sometimes valid concerns, they are a mere shadow of what truly matters. The Christian life is to be concerned primarily, with one thing, and that is knowing Jesus Christ. All our concerns are to be dealt with according to the heart of Jesus. He is more concerned with us knowing him, and less concerned with our judgement of others.

The Christian life is about spending time with God. Everything else is just details. Christians not only have salvation, we have His undivided attention. We have new ears to hear his voice, and a new heart to be shaped more like Jesus. We have the promised Holy Spirit who is intense in his pursuit of our worship. God’s word is readily available and written on our hearts. We have everything we will ever need in Christ, including his thoughts about what we should be giving our attention to. As Christians, we can never forget who it is we are to be most influenced by.

In the context of relationship with God, life’s priorities inevitably get turned upside down. The number one concern in life will no longer be living a good life, or making the world a better place, it will be living in healthy relationship with God. Making this the focus of life will cause everything else to fall into place according to God’s will. We cannot choose pure joy until we have chosen Christ. We cannot truly serve until we have acknowledged the One who came to serve. He is the vine and we are the branches. Apart from Him, we can bear no fruit.

Alternatives to having more of God are too many to count. We are presented with distraction after distraction, and they take form in countless ways. We are always distracted from spending time with God because that is when we are most fulfilled and most influential. When Christians get serious about delighting in God’s goodness and taking joy in obedience to him, revivals happen and the kingdom of God is brought with power. We are often perceived as an anxious and distracted generation. One that is always concerned and submitting to fear. Sometimes concerns that seem legitimate to us, might not be so valid when brought before the Lord.

In Luke 10:38-42 a woman named Martha opens her home to Jesus. Her sister Mary decides to sit at the feet of Jesus, listening to what he was saying. Martha was distracted with all the preparations she was making for Jesus, and became upset that Mary wasn’t helping her. She said “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha, the Lord answered, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Martha was not crazy or evil, she had good intentions. I believe Jesus was just kind enough to show us our good intentions are not sufficient for what is needed. We do not need good intentions, we need Jesus. We can concern ourselves with many things, but only One matters, and he will not be be taken away from us.  


wisdom and creativity

September 2, 2011

The words “wisdom” and “creativity” don’t seem like they should belong in the same sentence. Wisdom is often perceived as archaic, while creativity is typically associated with youthfulness and trendsetting. It’s interesting that we often see wisdom as old and creativity as new. Wisdom and creativity actually seem to be interrelated and always existing together. Take a moment and ask yourself what you think of wisdom and creativity. Let these words evoke passions, dreams, and questions. Ask God what he thinks about your thoughts. They are precious to him.

The ultimate act of creativity happened with creation itself. I don’t think this is to imply that God changed and became less creative afterwards, but more of an indication that he wants to show us himself through his creation. We are made to enjoy, discover, and marvel over God’s creative mysteries. Every person is born with the gift of being in the image of God, meaning we get to not only enjoy God’s creativity, we can also create in ways similar to him. God is even so gracious, he allows people to express their inherit creativity however they choose, even if the purpose is to ridicule him.

Musical creativity is capable of evoking intense passion in people. A beautiful melody can bring someone into an almost euphoric state of mind and change their attitude completely. On the other hand, songs with lyrics of hopelessness and despair may stir up familiar feelings and really hit home. It’s as if every human has a unique outlet that plugs into different forms of creativity. I used to think my unique way of seeing life and creativity was only valuable if I shared it with others. I am now realizing such a belief creates great fear in being misunderstood. It is wise to believe the truth, that our creator understands us more than we do. We must look to Him to understand why we see the world the way we do.

Imagine looking at a rose in a garden. Picture the root and the stem as wisdom. Now picture the beautiful blossom as creativity. Wisdom is the foundation for true creativity to rest upon. Proverbs 8 tells us “wisdom was the craftsman at his side. She (wisdom) was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind” (My paraphrasing). Wisdom goes hand in hand with creating. It gives us perspective and understanding. The beautiful melody brings a person closer to the reality of God’s goodness, while the song of despair brings the realization of injustice, the world not being as it should. Wisdom allows us to truly appreciate creativity in any form because it creates a context for it.

Having a context for life allows us to reject fear and embrace truth. Many Christians fear popular culture, so they shun and condemn it because of the evil they see. We have been given a Spirit to call out truth in love, not one that hides from evil. Through relationship with God, we have the insight and understanding to call out the deeper truths in all expressions of creativity. A song that degrades women and glorifies perversion is a desperate cry for an answer we have. Jesus. The one who longs for his people to overcome fear by his Spirit and share the gospel not out of an obligation, but out of a love for the lost. People are crying out for answers in creative ways. It would be wise to answer in creative ways.

I believe God would have us seek more of himself, and let pure wisdom and creativity flow from encounters with him. Wisdom longs to be the craftsman at our side, fashioning our creations to look more and more like Christ. This brings us to a place where wisdom and creativity become a pure connection with a real God. Christians have the Holy Spirit longing to renew our minds to be like Jesus’, to share God’s thoughts and secrets with us. Having a mind like Jesus’ starts with knowing how much God loves us. Hearing words of affirmation from our heavenly father breaks the chains of insecurity we put on ourselves. Our self imposed insecurities limit our authentic creative expressions. This freedom from self does not evoke fear, but a desire to worship God more and give him everything. If we desire to give our creativity to God, it would be wise to seek personal encounters with him.

1 Corinthians 2:10-13
10 but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the mans spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.


GoodWomenProject

September 1, 2011

I’ve been really busy lately. I wrote a post on GoodWomenProject. Please go check it out and comment on it! http://goodwomenproject.com/from-the-men/from-the-men-a-love-letter#comments


living life with all of God

July 24, 2011

I want to start a series of posts on things like suffering, joy, fear, and love. It’s going to be called “living life with all of God”. The goal is to provide a helpful context for personal relationship with God. The context is the trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. If we as Christians truly believe God to be this way, there are exciting implications when hearing God speak, and reading his word.

As a very brief and general overview, let me give you an example of what I mean. If you have a skewed perception of who God the father is, you will find it difficult to feel loved by God. Perhaps your father growing up was abusive, or was never around and this has played a role in shaping your view of God. We can look to Jesus and see his perfect demonstration of God as his father. We can read the Bible and see God is a good father. We can even teach others about how much God loves us and gave his only son for us, yet still feel unloved by God in a personal way. Sometimes we can know so much about God and yet feel so little of his presence. There are a tragic amount of Christians who know so much about the things of God, but never come close to experiencing the fullness of God. You can never feel like a legitimate child of God until you submit to all of God.

We trust the Holy Spirit because Jesus said that he would lead us into all truth. He is the one who speaks to the core of us that we are God’s child. He is the only avenue to feeling the Father’s love and he dwells inside and among us. He renews our mind to be like Christ’s and opens the eyes of our heart to see the inheritance we now have. In this case, the Holy Spirit opens your eyes to the true implications of the cross and helps you understand, that in Christ, there is no condemnation or wrath God the Father will ever place on you. Phrases like “riches in Christ” and “freedom in Christ” start sounding less abstract and more life changing. You then have no good reason to fear what you did before. The Spirit enables us to really grasp a passage like John 3:16 and gain more understanding of how loving and merciful our Father is. Shameful fear then, turns into a reverent fear, having to do with love and not punishment. We have such an awesome and all powerful God condescending down to us, not because he is annoyed with us, but because he actually cares about us.

God harmoniously works in our lives down to what we see as the smallest detail, because for God, there is no such thing as details. God cares and knows us in our entirety. He has opinions concerning our dreams, relationships, OCD tendencies, and sense of humor. He even speaks to us in a way that is unique and personal. He is a multidimensional God who is creative in his pursuit of us. Life isn’t each of us individually trying to find out who God is, it’s the opposite. God in three persons is actively and creatively pursuing us so we can finally find out who we are.

Romans 8:15-17
you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are Gods children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. (NIV)


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