About Me: Updated

Hi everyone,
I just wanted to post a new “about me” since I’ve like never done it here, apart my from About Me page.

The Bible
I take the Bible seriously – incredibly seriously. It is the Word of Life. But I don’t take it literally.

Like I said in my previous post about the Old Testament, I do believe the Old Testament stories have some basis in historical truth, but I don’t think what is written is exactly how it happened, or that Moses wrote the first five books, etc etc.

The Church
I have a complicated relationship with the church, and Christian culture in general. I’m a moderate-to-liberal leaning Christian who fights for all rights of humanity and creation, and I believe that we need to be kind and love others (and ourselves) as Christ unarguably loves us. With that, church is a place of communion with other believers and seekers, where we share our highs, our lows, our understanding, and our hope in Jesus. I’m moderate because I believe in modesty in apparel and speech for all sexes/genders, and take the Bible somewhat literally (as I said above), but that’s about it.

And as far as modesty, I believe it should be a choice, and that every person is free to describe how modesty/immodesty is for them.

Jesus
A year ago, I was a Unitarian Christian who underwent a conversion to the Trinity this past Easter. Holy Week was a trans-formative week for me, as I finally understood God dying on the cross for all of us. I know regularly pray to Jesus, as he is the gateway to God the Father. Most of the time, I just pray to the whole Trinity to acknowledge God in His Fullest.

Where I stand in social stuff
I am very liberal and a Democrat politically. Like I said above, I fight for rights for all: trans folks, black rights, immigrant’s rights, and women’s reproductive rights. These four things are incredibly important to me, and I focus on funding these four areas when they need help. If you try to post anti-queer, anti-Planned Parenthood comments here, you will get blocked. I see the holiness of each unborn child, but I cannot force a women/whomever to carry a child if they don’t want to or can’t. That will NEVER be my place to judge them or force them or whatever. I fully support a woman who has an abortion.

Thanks for reading!

Thanks,
Leigh Todd

The Bible…based off truth

Hi everyone,

Sorry I’ve been gone for a while. I’m back on Twitter, even though I prefer to type on here and get all my thoughts out on one page.

So, something has been bothering me for a while: While I am a progressive Christian, I’m also moderate when it comes to interpreting the Bible and culture.

I believe in modesty in apparel and speech, but also queer rights. I believe in controlling our sexual urges before marriage, but also am pro-reproductive health rights.

I’m at odds with myself, and THAT IS OKAY!

I live in paradoxical Christianity, and I’m okay with that. I’m happy, actually.

THIS comes to my conclusion about the Bible: While it is man-written, I do believe it be divinly inspired because men were looking for God, in awe of God, and in awe of his plan of salvation and creation.

I don’t believe it to be completely historically accurate, although I don’t believe the writers of the Bible pulled these stories out of their ass, to say! I believe 1) these stories came from various folk stories from each part of Israel, and 2) these stories come from a true story-line.

While I do consider man’s opinion, and our already-formed opinions when we read the Bible, I do believe the Bible is true.

It’s been a long time coming to realize this. I believe in critical biblical scholarship, but I believe the stories written in this Bible has having a true source, ya know? I believe the Torah (first five books of Moses) were stitched together during and after the Babylonian Exile, but the overall story was written from true stories passed down from generations.

I once had an Old Testament professor say the Exodus “was a bunch of bullshit,” and that he didn’t believe any of it to be true.

My question is this, though: How do the Israelites take a hold of a story and hold it as their own during and after the Babylonian Exile, if it is complete bologna? That seems ridiculous! They must have believed even the folk stories as their own before the Torah was written. As I was taught in my Seminary Old Testament class, the writers of the Torah (during and after the Babylonian Exile) completely made up the entire Torah to create a unified people that were in Exile in another land. Why, though, would you need to make up a story that lavish to unite the people? That just doesn’t make any sense!

Anyways, just had to get that rant out. I hope your Sunday is going well, and I hope and pray for you that your prayers are being answered, whatever they may be.

I’m a moderate Christian when it comes to the Bible, and all parts of Christianity. I’m not an extremist-leftist, and am not a fundamentalists/extremist-conservative. I’m smack-dab in the middle, and I’m glad to be that way.

I just hope and pray that the Presbyterian Church (USA) accepts me that way!

Love, Leigh Todd (soon to be Leigh Lestina, as I’m hoping to finally change to my married name soon!)

Edit: My relationship with Christian culture (especially American Christian Culture) and the Bible are really complicated, and I’m in the thick of detangling all that right now. Sorry for all the confusing posts these past two months – I’m trying to figure out how I fit into all of this!

False Believing

Hi everyone,

I wanted to talk about something that is dear to my heart, and is a reflection on my theological adventure so far: False believers and false believing.

There is plenty of evidence of the concept of “false believers” or in the New Testament. I’m not going to list verses, as you can find those on other websites. But the big thing is this: Those not chosen by God may be baptized, supposedly given the Holy Spirit, but are never believers. They show they are false believers by the way they live. True, though, is that all Christians struggle with sin, so it is virtually impossible for us fellow Christians to call out a false believer. We will NEVER know if someone was never chosen by God or if they’re just a struggling Christian, like the rest of us. JUDGEMENT will never be our job – that is only God’s.

The reason I bring this up is because I live in two different cultures: In rural, conservative Nebraska, and attending a liberal, progressive, dare-I-say-it heretical Seminary, which I attend online (UTS-Twin Cities). There will always be conflicts between these two locations, namely because I live in Nebraska, and go to school in Minnesota, online.

A serious conflict of cultures, I might say.

I’ve felt great tension between here and UTS, and it came to a head while I was having a bad mental health day, today.

I love my Nebraskan culture – I truly do, so I will not move to Minnesota, where I feel people are more hypocritical on their inclusion than we are.

So what am I saying? I just wanted to say this: You can be a false believer. I am Nebraskan enough to say that you can be a false believer, and believe that God chooses some and not others (I’m also Reformed enough to say that). BUT I’m also progressive enough to believe in critical biblical scholarship, queer rights, people-of-color’s rights, etc. I am also, for the most part, pro-choice. So the conservative Calvinist churches around here don’t fit me very well, so I’m attending a progressive PCUSA church here in York.

Like I said in the beginning, the signs of false believing are clear: Your life resembles someone God’s grace hasn’t touched. In this life, we are given grace to enable us to believe, endure, and obtain Heaven. If you were never chosen by God, then you will never be touched by God’s grace. Like I said, though, others still struggle with personal sin after grace, because we have free will, so while we might endure, we will struggle.

This is not blaming game of pointing fingers, saying “YOU are not a believer, while I am!” Rather not, this is a declaration to check your behavior and to ensure your election. This is a calling for you to push away personal sin, to love, to cherish, to not judge, all that. It is a calling to love your queer neighbor, your black and Native American neighbor, to advocate and fund for children of the border being reunited with their parents, all that. This is a personal call to push away adultery and promiscuity, and to follow Jesus all the way.

Thanks for listening to my rant.

Alleluia and Amen.

A Reflective Poem on Psalms 137-138

Dear God,
Today, there are refugees missing home,
Having to forsake their land, their homes, their memories,
To find freedom.

Psalm 137 speaks of the Babylonian Exiles being led away,
As their babies are are dashed against rocks.

Psalm 138 speaks of rejoicing and praising God amidst the pain.

Lord, hear our prayer.
Lord, in your mercy.

When refugees come to our land,
We say “tell us a song of your land.
Tell of your culture,
So that we can mock you,
Appropriate you,
And then mock you again.

When refugees fear they will forget their home,
Or their children will forget their heritage,
They curse themselves.

Saying, “let me tongue cleave to my mouth,
So I may never talk again
If I forget where I came from.”

Let me forget everything,
If I forget where I come from.

But yet,
I will praise God amidst this pain.

All kings and leaders and rulers,
Shall praise your goodness,
O Lord,
In good time.

In good time,
All will be right and true,
And you will be seen as ruler of this world.

“In the day when I cried out,
You answered me,
And made me bold with
Strength in my soul,” (138:3).

Though I am lowly, you see me,
You rescue me,
You fight for me, a little refugee girl,
With brown eyes, dark hair,
And a missing mom,
Whom I haven’t seen for months now.

When will I see my parents again?
When will I remember my heritage?

I will worship toward the House of God,
Knowing that you are there,
And everywhere,
Me and my parents are.

Amen.

Living in two worlds…

Dear God,
I am caught between two worlds.
Liberal Christianity in one hand, and conservative, Nebraskan Christianity,
In the other.

I find it liberating to study progressive biblical studies, where we
Are critical of the Bible’s origins,
But I also miss its applications to our lives.
Where we are guided by the Word,
Where God teaches us so much.

I feel taught by two worlds and one God.
I see God in action today, reflected in the Bible.

I see a Moses here, and a Pharaoh there,
I see a leader among a hateful place.
I see John the Baptist there, and Jesus here,
Proclaiming their Kingdom Come.
I see Paul in every business man, preaching his truth.

Lord, but I also see reality when it is there,
That there wasn’t actually an Exodus, or that the five books of Moses,
Were stories sewn together during and after the Babylonian Exile,
TO unite a refuge of people, the newly founded Jews, as they were
To be called from then on.

Lord, help me see this light in all things.
Help me see both.
Help me see Moses in my life,
And critical biblical scholarship in the Bible.

Help me see Jesus in everyone,
Even if Jesus didn’t say the exact words in the Gospels,
Same as Paul or Peter,
Or the fact that Paul and Peter didn’t write what everyone says
They did.

Help me pretend, for just a bit,
TO have faith,
But let me pretend
And acknowledge my pretending that the Bible
Is historically true,
So that my head can learn with my heart.

Lord, don’t force me to forsake my brain to accept Jesus.
Likewise, don’t force me to forsake Jesus for my brain.

Let my head learn with my heart.

Amen.


A Poem on Today

Today, I left my DoC church.
I’ve left the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

I met up with the pastor of First Presbyterian, and
Everything sounded right.
Reformed theology sounded right.
Even if the PCUSA shys away from predetermininism.

God, I see this is where you are putting me.
I enjoyed First Christian for a while,
But as the pastor put it,
That was for a time, a season,
And now it has run its course.

God, I’ve made such strides this year:
First, accepting the Trinity again,
Then Reformed theology,

And now a denomination with confessions, creeds, and a
History and a set theology that I can tap into when I preach,
So that I’m not always preaching the same thing every
Sunday: Love thy Neighbor.
I want to preach LOVE THY NEIGHBOR with a bit of a creed,
With confessions, Christian history, and denominational history
To back it up.

God, I’ve excited, really nervous,
And pumped for this next journey that you’ve got for me.
Fall 2019, here I come as a Presbyterian, for life!

NO MORE SWITCHING CHURCHES AGAIN!

I’m beyond sad, crumbling sad, to leave First Christian,
And my heart cannot take leaving Bev or Janet,
But it has to be done.
Lord, my heart aches.
Lord, watch over them and cherish them as beloved children of God.
I hope they see your light of progressive theology,
Where God loves all his children, not just the sinless ones.
Because we are sinners saved by grace – no longer guilty.
And some sins they think are still sins, were never sins to begin with
(I’m talking about homosexuality, here!).

I’m just trying to remind myself that this is for my good, so I’m trying to keep it together.
I’m waiting to hear back from Jack, to whom I sent that text saying I won’t be coming back to First Christian.

Lord, forgive me for leaving them, and help me on this journey with First
Presbyterian in the future!

Alleluia and Amen.

PS. I would love your prayers on this future.

Life Update & Faith Links: God, I am learning

Hi everyone,
I hope your week is going well!

Here are just a few of my updates, troubles, and struggles:

As I’m growing more Reformed, I’m leaning toward the Presbyterian Church (USA). They’re a liberal Reformed church, but I’m a liberal Nebraskan, so I’m down for it. The trouble is what to do with my lovable, but conservative, church members at First Christian. While we still haven’t voted on it yet, we’re still looking into leaving the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). With my moving away from Disciples of Christ, which I’ve been finding too loose in doctrine and not helpful in building up one in faith, I’m looking into attending First Presbyterian Church here in York. I want to leave Disciples of Christ, but I don’t want to leave my dissenting-First Christian church. They are family, and I love each of them, even if they are super conservative and their close-mindedness gets on my nerves sometimes.

So, I’m not sure how I can attend First Christian (and preach there, since Pastor Penny is leaving), and be Presbyterian. For now, I’m looking into attending First Presbyterian three weeks in a month, and attend First Christian the last week (or two, if we have five Sundays in a month). Earlier this week, I thought about just leaving First Christian completely, so I can devote myself to FPC and not get caught between two churches. This seems to be the most wise thing, but I DID say I would preach there for some time until we got a new pastor. Divorcing yourself from a church has to be quick and easy; otherwise, everything hurts. There is always pain when you divorce yourself from a church, especially when you’ve grown close together, but separate on social issues or doctrines.

I’m going to talk with Pastor Mark of First Presbyterian and see what he thinks. I’ve grown really close to Bev, Janet, and Jack and others, and am sad to leave First Christian.

My other option is to see if we stay Disciples of Christ, and then stay with the DoC in Nebraska. The thing is, though, is that with the DoC being of “no creed but Christ,” I don’t know how I’m going to raise my children with ambiguous beliefs. How will they know the right way to Jesus and know that they are chosen before time to be His children?

This is tricky.

Lord Jesus, I am learning. Jesus, I see your hand in all things, including this shaping of my life into more of your image, through this struggle. God, you’ve put me on this wild faith journey, and I know we’re still just in the beginning!

Would love your prayers.

Thanks, Leigh

PS: Here are some links to traditional views of the Bible, that you can use in your Bible study, and also some more open-minded and liberal ones as well:

enterthebible.org (Liberal)
bibleodyssey.org (Liberal)
thebibleproject.com (traditional)

Growing as a Christian: A Poem

God,
You call people into relationship with you.

On May 22nd, 2016, I was called into relationship with you in the waters of baptism, where
Water was poured on my head three times,
In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

I’ve been on a whirlwind of a faith journey,
Where I’ve been a girl seeking to convert to Judaism,
Then investigated the LDS Church,
Then quickly baptized Lutheran,
Then baptized Fundamentalist Baptist.

Then explored the United Methodist church multiple times,
Then committed myself to the Disciples of Christ church
Even before I set foot in a DoC church.

I’ve been a potential Jew, a potential Latter-day Saint,
Baptist, Methodist, Episcopalian, Unitarian, Catholic-Unitarian,
Disciple of Christ, and now Presbyterian, possibly!

Lord, I’m done moving from church to church. I’m done.
I just want to stick somewhere.

With my local DoC church’s affiliation unsure with Disciples of Christ,
I’m looking at other options, to attend to in addition with my local First Christian
(Which MIGHT become non-denominational).

Everything is so unknown right now, only known by you.
You have ordained this path for me,
But I have not always enjoyed the journey.

I wish the train would stop here, at First Christian/First Presbyterian,
Where I can set deep roots, raise a family,
And whatnot.
Yet, both Jacob and I know that we want to move
To Hasting, Nebraska, someday,
So we will be uprooted once again.

You’ve got some crazy plan for us, Lord.

Amen.

Life Update: Fighting God’s Will

Hi everyone,
These past couple of weeks have been a serious struggle. I know I’m fighting God’s will for my life, and my wrestle with Him is just causing me pain!

My Church, First Christian Church, is voting this Sunday on two things:
1. Should we leave our denomination?
2. Should we close our doors for good?

I feel a serious tug toward Reformed theology, where grace is life and election is salvation, if we leave Disciples of Christ and sell our building. Of course, we’ll still meet up informally as a non-denominational home group, but what will I do without being in a denominational church!!??

While I’m not sure what my church will do exactly with Pastor Penny leaving us (she’s transferring to a Methodist church somewhere else), and us seriously struggling financiallly, I hope God can help us and KNOWS WHAT HE IS DOING!

I’ve said it on my Instagram, and I’ll say it here: We’re struggling because we don’t embrace everyone. My church is incredibly close-minded and this is killing us. THIS, however, is not a matter for us to embrace heresy to grow the church. On the contrary, we are embracing the diversity of God and His love for all creation: Immigrants, single parents, women who’ve had abortions, queer folks, trans and gender-conforming folks, and/or disabled or atypical-neurological folks.

I’m always amazed at the image of God, because of His people made in His image. God must be amazing!

And while I do hope that my church will get the help it needs and grow financially and in attendance, I do now, in my heart of hearts, that we are dying. I fear nothing can stop it dying, but I’m just trying to keep my head up to God’s future. I can keep trying to lie to myself, saying “we’ll make it, we’ll stay Disciples of Christ,” but I know that is NOT true. I cannot keep lying to myself, thinking I could be a student preacher (even though I’m pretty sure my denomination won’t allow that!), or whatever.

With moving toward Reformed theology, I know this is God’s plan and will. God wants this, and has been guiding my steps in my life to get here. I could go the ELCA route, where they believe you can commit temporary apostasy, but I’ve never really been much of a fan of the ELCA or Lutheran faith, so I’ll just stick with Calvinism. I’d most likely attend our First Presbyterian Church here in York, where I would be welcomed as a future female pastor, leader, and chaplain. And yes, while I struggle with Eternal Security, I hope I can reconcile that with my faith (since fake Christians can be cut from the vine!).

JUST THINK ABOUT IT! A year ago today I was a Unitarian Christian who believed in works+grace theology! Now, I’m a Trinity-professing Christian who is all about that grace! But if I hadn’t gone through my Unitarian/Works stage, I wouldn’t understand being saved by grace as much as I do now, and I wouldn’t understand Jesus as being truly God incarnate. And I SURELY wouldn’t have thought I’d become Calvinist!

I wouldn’t understand God or his plan for my life like I do now.

So, while I struggle with being so disconnected from Seminary right now (by the very fact that they’re 400-500 miles away from me, and I HATE being an online student/laptop student!), I do hope for goodness in the future. God is a God of love and hope, not of disaster, right?

Thanks,

Leigh Todd

A Mixture of It All: Poem

It’s truly a mixture of it all,
Where faith is for me.

I am Reformed,
I am Arminian,
I believe in the Perseverance of Saints,
Yet I believe we can fall from grace as Christians,
And temporarily lose our salvation.

This is why I am Disciples of Christ. We confess no creeds,
Yet confess Christ as Lord and Savior.

We follow no confessions,
Yet we confess the Bible,
And that we are each responsible for reading it,
Interpreting it,
And living God’s Word out into the World.

I’ve checked out Lutheranism,
But as I’ve been baptized Lutheran,
Attended a Lutheran church,
I feel the Lutheran faith is too…

White, hierarchical,
Pious, stuck-up, again, white, aristocratic.

I don’t want to stick with the white stuck up old folks.

I want to stay with the struggling mom in the pews,
As her children won’t listen,
Who doesn’t put on a fake face for everyone.

I want to stick with the church that is dying, like mine.

Last Sunday, my church started the discussion about leaving our denomination,
And closing our doors.

I am in shock, and am not sure what to do next.

I am truly Disciples of Christ, but I have yet to experience Disciples of Christ.
Truly, I have just experienced a Bible-based church.
I long to experience a true Disciple of Christ church.

I’ve thought about attending the local Presbyterian USA church,
Where they preach Reformed teachings on predestination,
But they also preach Eternal Security, which is wholly unbiblical, to me.

To you, it might be your answer to faith.
For me, I’m a mixture of all three faiths: Reformed, Lutheran, and Methodist.
I am truly a Disciple of Christ, who does not fit into one easy box.

I am a Disciple of Christ, and wherever I go, I hope to stay DoC.

A Prayer: God, am I wrong? Am I right? What does the Bible really say about Eternal Security?

Dear God,
For a week now, I’ve been studying Eternal Security.

As someone who is moving from Arminian to Reformed theology, this is one thing that has been bugging me, and one thing I can’t quiet give up – Apostasy.

You see, I believe with my whole heart that we can commit apostasy. It says in Romans that “If you stop trusting, you will be cut off [from the vine] too,” (Romans 11:22, NLT).

And Hebrews talks about those who have experienced salvation and the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 6:4-8).

Yet, I also know that Reformed theology is more biblically correct.

God, I want to be secure in my faith. I want to know that while I can mess up our relationship, that you will never banish me from your sight as your Child.

But, I also want to have an honest look at what the Bible says. As it seems, the Bible says a lot of things each denomination has trouble with. For Wesleyans, predetermination and election. For Reformed Christians/Calvinists, it’s apostasy. For Lutherans, the epistle of James and works.

Lord, I know in your goodness you are putting me on a path of goodness, not of confusion and cobwebs. I feel like I’m finally starting to clear the barn (my brain) of cobwebs, and beautify it and simplify my theology. I can only hope, and I know, that I am elect of God, as is my family, and that while some of us are struggling with Christianity, you hold unto us and love us dearly. Let us see Jesus with fresh eyes and embrace others as we rejoice in our salvation.

Lord, in your mercy, hear my prayer. And help this last bit of confusion in my brain.

Lord, I am truly a mixture of Arminian and Reformed theology. Truly, I am a Reformed Arminian!! Or at least, I feel like, God, that the Bible is more of a mixture of Protestant theologies because Jesus does not draw lines – he just draws us to His Word.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Poem: If Calvinism if at least partly true…

Dear God,
If Calvinism is at least partly true,
Then we live in a paradox-like world of free will and predetermination.

If Calvinism if at least partly true,
Then we have free will, that you judge us on how we use it.
But you laid out the world’s events before the world began.
Truly, I am moving toward Reformed theology.
I believe we are free to make mistakes,
That we are to be judged by Christ at the White Throne,
But that are days are planned ahead of time.
I’m not sure why, but this is a comforting thing.

When I was strictly Arminian,
God, I felt so lost.
God, it seemed you were reckless,
That we were reckless,
That you are NOT in control.

The Bible spoke of you ordaining our days,
And that even the bad stuff was ordained from you.
Like in Acts, the Disciples realized that YOU ordained their persecution.
It was to be so. It was for their goodness and your glory.

Now, with my mixture of faith,
I feel comforted, just like David and Paul did,
That nothing escapes you, nothing surprises you.
I see your wondrous hand in all things in my life –
From the guy at Burger King giving that discount for my meal,
When I’m barely making it to payday,
To my battery on my TC-70 (Walmart Device) lasting my whole shift.
To trying out the Meats department for the first time,
And seeming to get the hang of it.
I see you all there, all creating each step by step.
God, you are there.
You are here, as I type these words.
You are here, creating the best life for me,
As I live it out, mistakes and all.
You chose me (possibly b/c I chose you).
But no matter what theology that is,
You CHOSE ME. You chose me, a sorrowful sinner,
A girl who practiced sex outside of marriage,
Who takes your name in vain nearly every day,
You forgave this girl, because you loved her and knew her.

God, love all my family members.
If you predestined me, I imagine, by the very fact
That the baptized husband, mom, Dad, and siblings,
That you chose them. Even if we choose you first,
YOU CHOOSE US, every day.

Obviously, I imagine that we can commit temporary apostasy
In this life, but since we are chosen, that we will endure to the end
And come back to faith.

Lord, you are too wonderful for us.

IN Jesus’ name, Amen.