Proper 12: A Poetic Prayer of Hope amidst God’s Judgment

Dear God,
You passed Judgement on your people,
Time and Time again.

But again and again,
You passed Salvation.

From once being called “Not God’s People,”
To “His Children,”

Us Christians passed through the waters of Salvation
To enter as Citizens of Heaven.
We clothe ourselves in Christ,
Carrying God with us.

All we have to do is knock, ask, seek.
God answers. Abundently,

Because we are His Children,
We are never forsaken.

Christ beat down all others,
Just to gain us.
He beat us body on the cross,
So we can circumcise ourselves via the Holy Spirit.

We are His, and that.is.everything.

It’s All in All – God’s Decree/Plan, My Life: A Poetic Prayer

Dear God
God, I’m in awe of you,
And your sovereignty and all your goodness.
You work all things for good, for those you called according to your purpose.

I’ve been struggling with Arminian vs. Reformed theology,
And I’ve realized, after talking with my Pastor,
And reading my Bible,
That’s its a lot more complicated than we once thought.

God has plans, hopes, decrees for our lives,
But we can still commit apostasy.

The jury is still out for whether some are predestined, according
To His purpose, for Hell.

I try to remain focused on this:
Present/Future: Free will choices that I can make.
Past: God’s decree/plan.

I cannot mess up God’s plan for my life, because its all been his plan all along.

Lord, this religion is complicated, but a relationship with you is simple.
It just means calling to you like David did, saying “God, embrace me.”

God, embrace me.
Envelope me in your loving arms,
Carry me to my destination, to my home in Heaven.

Help me live out this dream of yours.
Help me share this Gospel with others,
So they can be embraced by you,

The All-in-All God.

A Poem: Moving Past Biblical Theology: Theodicy

God,
I know one thing, and that the Bible is full of theodicy.

It means: Finding answers of a good God in the midst of evil.
Calvinists, Isaiah, Paul, Solomon, nearly everyone,
Says you are the author of both good and evil.
Even Isaiah 45:7 states
“I form the light and create darkness,
I bring prosperity and create disaster;
I, the LORD, do all these things.”

Clearly, the Israelites believed God was the answer to all that happened to them,
And that he openly blessed the righteous.
But then we get to Paul,
Where he states in Romans 9:15-18,
Where God hardens some hearts,
And has mercy on others for salvation.

I truly know Paul is talking about
The Jews’ unbelief, and the Gentile’s belief.

But God, I wonder: is this true? Is predestination true?
Because Methodism cannot answer the “hardens the hearts of some.”

Unless…

This is theodicy. This is a hindsight explanation,
That has been used for centuries – milleniums, in fact.

To this I wonder…

I feel myself, once again,
Moving away from strict, literal biblical theology,
Into understanding the Bible in its times, places, and contexts.

Alleluia and Amen for historical understanding of the Bible!

Troubling Thought: Does God Ordain Pain, or Just Allow It?

Update: As I was taught by professors, the Jewish and early-Christians thought that God ordained both good and bad is a comforting explanation in hindsight. I just remembered that. David, Isaiah, Paul, Luke – all believed God ordained things as a comforting remark. We as Christians today, still have a habit of believing that! Signed, an Arminian Christians who believes in final perseverance of saints.

Hi everyone, First, let me add a disclaimer for my question in the title: Reasons for anything are a lot more complicated than we think. As Jen Hatmaker explains in her article, “Why does God allow suffering and pain?,” reasons for pain and suffering are a lot more complicated than “God is sovereign.” Yes, I believe God is sovereign over all of us, and that he allows pain for our good and his glory, but another question has been bugging me…

Does God actually ordain our pain, good, bad, ugly, all of the above in our lives? If so, do we have free will?

Does God ordain pain, or does he just allow it? And is there a difference, or are ordain and allow the same thing?

I’m a Wesleyan by heart; I place great emphasis on free will, our destructive behaviors, and God NOT being the root of all evil. But as I do with all things religion-related, I lean into the hard stuff and have been looking at Calvinistic theology. With Presbyterian and all Reform theology, God ordains all things in our lives and numbers the days of our lives. He is truly and honorifically sovereign in our lives. Yet, when we mess up, WE are still responsible for our mess-ups and have the deal with the consequences, in this life and this next.

Now, the reason I’ve been looking into this is because I am dissatisfied with Arminian theology of apostasy. I am a firm believer that we can fall from the faith, but I am disenhearted by the fact that there have been, there are, and there will be so many lost souls that never accepted Christ b/c they either didn’t hear about Jesus, or if they did, completely rejected Him. That seems reckless of God to predestine only those to the Kingdom that he knew would endure to the end in belief (conditonal election). To me, it feels like hardly anybody would be in Heaven or be believers at the Resurrection if that was the case.

BUT, the hard part about God predestining all believers/non-believers is that God ACTIVELY predestines some to hell. That, too, sounds absolutely un-God like. He would want everyone to come to faith. Call my a Universalist, but I believe God would want all people to come to Heaven and to leave none behind.

BUT, I also understand God respects our free will, so I’m a flux. Either God allows so many uneducated-about-Jesus people to go to Hell, or He actually ordains them to Hell. Either way, this doesn’t work. I swear, I understand where the Latter-day Saints are coming in with by-proxy baptisms for the dead!

So, what is my decision? I AM NOT SURE. I feel like it’s really an ugly mixture of both predestination, free will, apostasy, ordaining all things, choice, and all that. I feel like whenever we try to wrap theology with a bow on top, we’re putting God in a box that is WAY too small. God is surely complex, and we will likely never understand Him. I for sure know, that if God does not actively ordain all things to happen in our lives, including pain, he at least allows them for our goodness and His glory. I believe he numbers our days, also, and that he has a purpose and plan for all of us. So, a mixture, really.

I swear, this is why I was baptized Lutheran! We believed in one-sided predestination for believers, and also in free will. LOL.

Love, Leigh Todd

A Daily Reminder: A Poem

Hi everyone,
I just wanted to add a daily reminder to y’all.

God loves you no matter what.
No matter what sins lay in your heart,
No matter what you’ve done.
You are a Child of God,
Having said Yes to Him,
He will take care of You.

He will call you back to Himself,
Just as he did so many years ago
When you first became a Christian.

God loves you no matter what has happened in your life.
God is not the author of evil and disaster,
But I don’t know why God allows some things to happen…
To teach us lessons? To help us become more like Him?

I will never know.
But Christ loves us no matter what.
No matter our responses to events in our lives,
He cherishes us greatly.
Because we.are.His.

Now love him as much as He loves you.

Alleluia and Amen.

My Middle Ground: Modesty, Sexuality, and Queerness

When you think of modesty and purity culture, you think of hatred for one’s body and impossible rules.

To me, I find freedom and hope.

When I became a Christian, I didn’t just follow Jesus because his grace was liberating – I followed him because I liked his and Paul’s teachings (plus others).

I still view the Bible as a work of human hands trying to understand God and His Will, but I do see instructions in it as well. And I hope to raise my children in these instructions.

First off, I am a progressive Christian. I actively fight for queer rights in the Church and State, and (am currently) advocating and donating money to children in need at the border. But I’m also a Nebraskan, with ingrained ways of life. In Nebraska, women (AND MEN!!) are expected to be modest in appearance, but most importantly in attitude and how we carry ourselves. Humbleness is key, and kindness is expected and hoped for.

As a Christian in my First Christian Church, here in York, NE, we preach liberation from sin and hope in Christ’s salvation. We also, though, preach modesty and purity in all things. In speech, deeds, and yes, sex. While it is not talked about like it should be, all people should guard their dignity. And while I don’t believe being modest is about not tempting the other sex, I do believe it is having respect for oneself and God.

Now, for me, being a liberal Christian, I carry two mantels: Progressive, liberative theology, and modest Nebraskan values. I carry them side by side, even if they conflict with each other.

So, how do I carry these two theologies? Frankly, I believe in the queer rights, relationships, and open-ness of queer and trans folks. I believe everyone should love and be loved as they wish to be, and open about their identities. For me, (and it doesn’t have to be for you!), I believe my future (possibly queer) children still need to be modest in appearance, deed, speech, and refrain from having sex as a young teenager. I do recognize, however, that marriage just out of high school (so that they won’t have sex outside of marriage) is unrealistic, as many are just discovering who they are, what they seek in a partner (whether same-sex or not), and what they want out of life. I just hope, however, to ingrain in their hearts that they should wait to consummate any relationship at a later age, to reduce to risk of pregnancies and STD’s. I want them, most importantly, to be at a more mature age when they connect with their partner on that intimate level. Strangely, I remember the singer of Coldplay talking about how his mom told him to wait til his early 20’s to have sex, and how that actually blessed him when he was older. I want the same for my children.

I know most children, especially teenagers, don’t listen to their parents. I know at least one of my future children will have sex at 14, and possibly get an STD. Thankfully, their is forgiveness and lessons learned in all of that. I just pray that my children learn from my family’s mistakes, with having sex so early, promiscuity, getting STD’s, and teenage pregnancy. And yes, there is birth control, but there have been times when I’ve heard about a young girl’s boyfriends reject a condom mid-sex, they forget a condom, or they forget to take their pill. Birth control is a safe option, and is absolutely wonderful, but it is not fool-proof.

Thanks for listening to my rant.

Love, Leigh

Post-tribulation/Pre-millennium-ism: A Testimonial Poem

God, if we were to endure,
What would that look like?

The day is far in the future,
I am sitting at home,
As the storms get worse, the earthquakes become more frequent,
Global Warming is getting even worse than before.

While I am no doomsday proclaimer,
I do see the signs,
Although they don’t mean much until Christ arrives.

THEN, when the day comes,
I see you coming in glory,
No one hushes, saying “He is here,” or “He is there.”
You come in all your glory, and all see you.

You defeat Satan, the destroyer of lives, the enticer of sins,
And you gather all your Saints in your arms,
Uplifting living believers into the Heavens,
Resurrecting the first Resurrection of all saints, as they make their journey
From the grave to You, having lived as Spirits in Heaven before,
Now living in glorified bodies, in beatified form just like You.

Now, we rule in Heaven with you, as you
Gather more Saints on Earth.
I am a firm believer that you gather as many believers as you can,
During the last 1,000 years.

Then, at the end of those thousand years,
You release Satan,
To test those new believers one more time.
And then you defeat him, once for all time.

Then we face the Judgement Seat,
Where we face all our sins,
Our terrible, and sometimes good, decisions.
You tell the good, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

To those who didn’t believe, who didn’t take the name of Christ upon them,
They endure torment, because non-believers were haters of all goodness,
All love, all appreciation, for the least of these.

This is why Jesus mentions judgement in Matthew 25,
Because believers, saved by grace, should truly love the least of these,
To show their love for Christ in their love for all.
And while we are saved by GRACE,
Jesus’ loving example of loving all should be what we should emulate.
Jesus exhorted us, really.

Then Heaven comes to Earth,
And we truly live as Saints forever.

Alleluia and Amen.

Proper 8: You are free, & don’t look back (a Poem)

Galatians 5:1, 13-25 & Luke 9:51-62

Dear Theodore, Franklin, and Emma,

Although its going to be many years before you are born,

Or at least adopted,

Please know that I already love you,

And can’t wait to be your mother.

Your father, Jacob, and I really want to be your parents.

When you are nine years old, you will be baptized.

Waters will rush over you,

And your sins will be forgiven.

You will be free from the bondage of sin,

Insomuch that you’ll have

God’s Spirit to teach right from wrong.

Your sins,

Past, Present, Future,

Will be forgiven,

But as Jesus said in the Gospel of Luke,

“Don’t look back – otherwise you can’t follow me.”

In this life,

You will face challenges beyond comprehension,

You will face challenges so great, you’ll want to

Forsake God because he is seemingly “not there.”

Children,

Please remember that God is always there,

Crying on your behalf,

Fixing a situation

Free will destroyed.

We are not the most powerful beings in the Universe,

But our free will can be just damaging enough

To change lives and futures.

But don’t fret.

Jesus asks to sacrifice everything to follow Him.

When I converted to Christianity,

I lost many friends.

People thought I was a Jesus-freak.

And in some way, I am.

When you follow Him,

I hope you don’t lose friends over Him.

I hope you sacrifice all your money,

All your love,

All you dreams,

To follow the Savior,

Because HE.IS.EVERYTHING.

Don’t be spiritually dead,

Be alive with the flame of the Holy Spirit,

Walking in His Ways,

Following His Counsel.

Seek His heart, always, dears.

Seek His love.

Seek Him.

Put off the old, sinful ways,

And seek Him.

Don’t look back,

And proclaim the Kingdom of God.

Do this by loving others as yourself.

Love, Leigh.

A Poem/Prayer: Old Mormon Faith

God,
It’s now been three years since I stopped investigating (seeking to convert) to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Three years,
In a time-span where I’ve thought more than once to return to the Church,
And get baptized once for all time.

I still read my Book of Mormon,
And follow the “Come, Follow Me” weekly readings,
But I still don’t want to commit to the church.

It means I’ll have to give up the lectionary in my church,
My praying to Jesus, God the Son,
It means I’ll have to give up coffee and energy drinks,
And praying the sign of the cross, wearing a cross necklace,
And carrying a Protestant rosary with me everywhere.

I’m still too attached to the Protestant, Trinitarian church,
To give up all that means to embark into the unknown,
Different, peculiar, other.

It means believing in something,
I’m not even sure is true or not.

I’ve tried so hard this past year to fit into the mainstream church,
By believing in the Trinity, I’ve become one with the whole Trinitarian Church.

I think I’ll stay here a little longer,
And possibly, maybe, I’ll convert after I retire as a Pastor,
Where I’ve lived this Trinitarian life long enough,
To explore something different.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

A Poem: Depression, Anxiety, & God

God,
I sit here, at the library, depressed and anxious.

Why?
Mostly because I don’t have a schedule on my days off and I don’t know what to do with my life.

Yes, Sundays I get to go to the pool and have fun.
But Mondays and Tuesdays are filled with boredum, coffee, and reading.

***

God,
You are one-in-three, three-in-one.

When I was a Unitarian, I believed God to be One: Spirit.
According to Catholic teaching, God the Father is indeed a spirit, as the head of the Trinity, yet equal to all.

Now, we have God the Spirit, which is a separate Holy Being from You, yet is You.
God, you’ve got split personality disorder.

Yet, I know God is personal,
That God came to Earth in the form of Jesus,

Whom Jesus was before time began.
Jesus was, is, and is to come.

And Now, God lives in his third person, as he lived as God the Father
In Old Testament times. Now, he lives as Spirit,

Yet his other two personages don’t disappear
They took their turn, and still live in equality with You.
And now you get your chance as God the Spirit.

***

I’m hoping for some time with family, as things get done,
Food gets eaten,
Money is spent against my ideal choice,
And time away from my depressed mind is given.

I hope for goodness, O LORD, because you are the author of goodness.
Old Testament Jews believed that you were the author of all things,

Good, Bad, and the Ugly.
But I think we know better nowadays.
Because of the Holocaust, 9/11 and all such events,
We see you crying at your friend’s funeral,
Upset at death’s ringing at the door,
And your use of death as an opportunity for good, somehow,
As you foreknew all that you would happen.

***

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Poem: Everything the Opposite

Jesus

God,

You created the Heavens,

And established rules for life on Earth, and all creation.

The Israelites of old thought that God caused all bad things to happen,

That all was ordained of God.

While I don’t know if that’s true – I know good things are ordained.

I know bad things might be given permission to pass.

For what reasons, I’ll never know until I enter Heaven myself.

God’s got some crazy plan, with all his foreknowledge.

I believe in a God of all control, 

But see humans as powerfully-enough creatures,

To cause serious damage 

To our Earth, which you gave to us to steward in your name.

We damage our own people in tremendous ways, also.


Instead of us dwelling in present a Temple, God resides in us.

The Psalmist, possibly David, spoke of being in God’s courts, basking in his glory.

The crazy thing is, 

We are now God’s Temple!

God lives in us!

Let us bask in his presence in us and around us.


Instead of asking for forgiveness each time from God,

God has legally wiped the slate clean.

We owe no debts to God.

Instead of us sinning and God forgiving us over and over again,

We are declared not guilty,

Because if we had to ask for forgiveness every time,

The Old Testament proved already we kept failing at that.

God had to create a new plan.


Things had to be different when Jesus arrived.

Jesus had to show things as they really were,

Not righteous great,

And sinners failing,

But all equal under God’s eyes.

God does not show favoritism to the righteous,

But equality to the sinners,

And shows grace to all.

Jesus had to put the world upside down,

And declare the rain came to the righteous and the unrighteous,

And the servant was the Leader.


Alleluia and Amen.

A poem in response to the growing Calvinism in America’s Christianity, as well as the revolution Jesus brought when he came to Earth.  Everything is different now with Jesus.

Life Update: Summer Vacation

Hi everyone,
I’m currently on summer vacation, waiting to hear back on my grades for the semester and overall GPA for the year. I’m just hoping to graduate United with a 3.5 GPA, so a goal this year was to be 3.0 or higher. I graduated Gustavus with a 2.899 GPA, due to mental illness, and its been a goal of mine to hit above 3.0 for graduate school, now that I’m on meds, in stable housing, and am happily married with a fixed income.

But we’ll just see how this year went!

How am I doing at home? I hate my job at Walmart, but love my co-workers (especially Jimmy, Don, Denise, Sheila, and Michelle and Dave), so there’s that. I’m looking forward to getting health insurance in the fall with Walmart, since I’ll have been working there a full year come September (I’m only part-time, so that’s why I have to wait a year!).

Brendan (Middle) and friends just before Graduation!

My brother, Brendan, graduated from high school! He’s officially an adult, and has no idea what he wants to do with his life. But that’s okay – it takes a while and some life experience to figure that out!

I’m also really in love with studying Wesleyan and Methodist doctrine, and how I can apply it to my Disciple of Christ faith. With Disciples, since we don’t profess a set doctrine, we allow different theology camps in our church, acting in Unity of our love for our Savior, Jesus, and our neighbors. I’m a part of the Wesleyan/Methodist camp, as I pretty much consider myself a Methodist Exile/Undercover Agent. The reason I haven’t joined the local UMC in York is because of the Traditional Plan that was passed and later affirmed by the Judicial Board of the UMC. With that, all queer folks in gay relationships cannot be ordained, nor can queer marriages be given. It’s a terrible decision of the church, and I’m hoping it will be reversed in the future. Other denominations were in this situation in the late ninteties and early 2000’s, but the UMC seems to be one of the last ones to deal with this.

Well, that’s it! Thanks for reading!

Alleluia and Amen.

Love, Leigh Todd