Here’s the thing – usually, I read the Bible because it’s interesting to me. I read it not because I have to, but because I’m interested in the experiences of people who have seen God work in certain ways. I’m interested because that story is as important as my story, as our stories, with our experiences (or lack thereof) of God, and the experiences of others can help me understand my own experiences.

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"The Bible’s aim is not to solve the philosophical problem of theodicy, so much as it is to enable the relationship with God to survive all shocks, to make life in covenant with God a viable option, despite the evil and the suffering that are experienced by the faithful. The Bible doesn’t offer one single model of how to cope with this problem. A dynamic relationship with what is perceived to be a living personal God rather than the static God of the philosophers, is too complex to be captured in a single dimensional theology. Systematic theology could not do justice to the variegated experiences of the nation and of an individual life, and that’s not the mode or genre chosen by the biblical writers."

— Christine Hayes, Professor of Religious Studies at Yale
(via yarabirham)

(via yarabirham)

tbh, sometimes I just want someone who understands me.

Tags: personal

(via eunheyyy)

My stat teacher keeps on calling me Mark. ><


Tags: personal

Thoughts (semi-formed):

The story of Jesus: it gets worse before it gets better.

But it gets better, I promise.

God, what would you have me do with my money?


Fake It ‘Til You Make It, A How To Guide


Anonymous asked:

How true is the “fake it ‘til you make it” statement? As Christians, we don’t want to be disingenuous nor should we seek to actively deceive others or even ourselves. But there is advice that says that if we are not confident, we should pretend to be confident until you actually develop confidence. Does that actually work: acting, pretending, and faking your way through life?

I answered:

“Fake it ’til you make it” can work really well. However, if you try to shorten that down just to “fake it”, which a lot of folks do, that is going to lead to a lot of problems. Fake it ’til you make it is a very useful strategy for a very specific situation, but it is not a long term solution. Let’s compare it to those Tide-to-go pens. Those are great if you notice a small stain on your pants on the way out of the door, but it would be a really bad idea to replace doing laundry with just using Tide-to-go pens all the time.

The time to fake it ’til you make it is when that little voice of insecurity is getting in your ear and trying to convince you that you can’t do it or you don’t belong here. The “faking it” aspect of the whole thing is about trying to keep that voice at arms length so you can actually get to the experience itself.

For example, let’s say you are at a new church. You are going to be nervous about new people, songs you don’t know, and all sorts of stuff, but none of that has anything to do with whether or not that church is a good place for you. So if you decide to fake it ‘tl you make it, you just decide to act like you belong there. Mumble your way through the first verse of some songs until you get the hang of it. Go up to talk to somebody after the service and ask a couple of questions. That will allow you to actually focus on the experience and get a real sense of what is happening instead of just being overwhelmed by your nervousness. You do that a few times and you will start actually feeling comfortable instead of just acting comfortable.

A sociologist named Amy Cuddy actually studied the idea of fake it ’til you make it. She found that people who adopted confident body language actually affected the level certain chemicals associated with confidence in people. If you act confident, eventually your brain forgets you are acting and you will be more confident.

Faking off is not a good way to go through life or approach your walk with the Lord. However, faking your way through some nerves and discomfort so you can push past that to get to the real deal is a great way to expand your horizons into some incredibly cool new ways.

-Matt from The Bridge

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As I write this, I’m listening to the wonderful Nathan Bonnes cover a song at Coffeehouse, Rice’s student-run (guess what?) coffeehouse. It’s actually quite beautiful, with a three-part harmony.

And as I think about Christianity and what I am called to - towards becoming more like Jesus and being “more Christian,” whatever that means - I think about the ways I am different - so different - from other people. How can I be the Christian others want, or even - possibly - need me to be? I’m strange - I’m a nerd and a geek, someone who doesn’t like sports - someone who reads the Bible using historical or literary analysis, depending on what mood I’m in. My relationship with God is different from most, my relationships with my friends quite different than is often termed “appropriate” (by which I tend to think people mean “normal”).  My theology is orthodox yet not necessarily evangelical, my understanding of God more feeling than thought (though it is definitely an amalgamation of the two, to the extent that they intermix seamlessly). My platonic love for others crosses arbitrary boundaries people have set for me, and my compassion and mercy are more generous than people would advise. How can I be the Christian others want me to be?

I can’t. I’ve tried. Maybe not as hard as others, but I won’t anymore. Because then I won’t be me, and I don’t think that’s what God wants for me.

I think that when we hear that we are are supposed to be “little Christs” (the origin of the word “Christian”), we imagine a carbon copy of the real thing - an imperfect thing that is almost (or in some cases, not very much like) the real Messiah, the real Jesus in the flesh. We want to act like him, talk like him, maybe even read the original greek to get as close as possible.

But I don’t think that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Because then I’m measured by how different I am from Jesus, how flawed I am. I don’t think Jesus created us to be that way.

Here’s the larger story that’s interwoven in the Bible - that God is taking everything and making it beautiful. God is taking what there is and making it wonderful, glorious - and unique.

So, I don’t think we’re all supposed to be carbon copies of Jesus - I think we’re supposed to be covers of him.

Because a cover isn’t the original. It has the same melody (mostly) as the original, the same theme, the same idea - but is different. And the difference is what makes it special. Covers are beautiful because they are different from the original, yet are the same. It’s the juxtaposition of new meaning and new nuance to a song that was already good.

Likewise, my life is not supposed to be what other expect it to be - it’s supposed to be surprising. It’s supposed to be different from Jesus so that I can reach different people; it’s supposed to be awkward and messy and strange to reach the awkward and messy and strange - because that’s the kind of song they can hear.

If my life is a song, then I’ll sing it as loud as I can - but I won’t sing someone else’s song. I am a cover God is singing - a cover of himself, a different iteration than whatever came before. So I’ll sing - I’ll play - a cover that gives you goosebumps, a harmony that chills.

I’ll be a cover of His song, to make his story known.