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)